Thoughts on a near miss accident earlier this year
I mentioned in Laurie’s “A Heavy Load” post earlier this year (Tuesday 31st Jan) that Ailsa and I were almost killed returning home from Jewelia’s 21st in Wellington.
The alarm went off at 5am to get us up and ready. A short drive from Chris and Jan’s place in the Hutt into Wellington and in the queue for the Ferry by 7am.
A bit of a hold up with the Ferry berthing in Picton meant we weren’t on the road until 11:40.
Given that we weren’t likely to be back that way anytime soon, we went out to Rarangi and spent an hour with Karen. She certainly does some amazing art work.
That put us back on the long road home just after 1pm, and it was a very slow trip.
So many stops for road works – lollipops (the stop go signs). Probably close to 40 stops that day, most only one or two minutes, but one for half an hour while a rock breaker worked on a narrow point, and several others for about 5 minutes while trucks spread metal on surfaces. Had to be the unluckiest trip in that respect ever.
I accepted early that it would be a slow trip, and was staying within posted speed limits and going with the flow.
We did make progress, and as we passed Murchison the rain started to drizzle. Had my lights on (as usual) so only concern was braking distances.
We had a short break taking a look at the Maruia falls, then back on the road.
Just as we came out of the Shenandoah, I could see a truck passing another at the far end of the straight.
Didn’t think much of it as I dropped down into the little gully, as I expected it to be passed before I got to them. Had the wipers on intermittent.
As I came up out of the gully, and could see down the straight again, the truck seemed to be almost finished its passing maneuver, so I just kept going.
The road was wet enough that there was a lot of spray coming up from the truck, obscuring all behind.
As it was about 300m away, it pulled left, and the air cleared to reveal a third truck also passing the first.
I knew I was in trouble.
I hit the brakes as hard as I thought I could without locking up. As the truck got closer I kept increasing breaking.
The road was narrow, with tall grass on the steep sides (about 30 degrees). I couldn’t tell what sort of boulders might be lurking in the long grass, but knew that whatever was there was better than the approaching truck, but I wanted to get my speed down as much as possible to retain as much control as possible.
I felt the rear wheels lock, then the front wheels also started to slip, at that point I released the brake and headed hard left.
It was close.
I’m guessing the rear of our car was within half a meter of the truck (possibly much closer).
I put a little power back on and kept the car bouncing and moving past the truck then back onto the road.
As we came back to level, Ailsa and I both let out whoops of joy.
It was an adrenalin buzz like nothing in recent decades.
Ailsa wanted to pursue the trucks, and get their details, but I could already see it taking us past 10pm to get home, and chasing them would take it towards midnight, so insisted we just keep going.
We stopped at Springs Junction and shared our tale with the staff there as we got coffee and food and walked off some of the adrenalin.
Over the following weeks we made enquiries and tried to find out who the truck drivers involved were.
No direct result, and I am confident that the management of at least 4 companies were giving more thought to the safety outcomes their drivers achieved.
Neither of us took note of the companies involved, all either of us could recall was the colours. We could only guess at the companies by the colours. Amazing how narrow one’s focus becomes when existence is at threat.