The news tonight reported that well over 100 vehicles were involved in a massive collision on a bridge leading off the Isle of Sheppey during this morning's commuting time.
Amazingly, thank goodness, there were no fatalities.
The news reported that the bridge has no hard shoulder running along the edge of it. There is no lane dedicated for use by the Emergency Services in the event of an emergency. There is no lane that vehicles could use in an emergency to avoid colliding with, or being hit by, other vehicles. There is no lane that could be used in an emergency by people trying to leave the site of a collision, without having to clamber around the vehicles involved in the collision.
There a plans by the Government, to start using existing hard shoulders as extra lanes on some motorways, to ease congestion, at very little cost. They say that there will be refuges for emergencies every half mile or so.
I beg to suggest that we should keep our hard shoulders as hard shoulders, to be used whenever there is an emergency. As shown by today's event, emergencies can happen at any time, with almost no warning. Although today's cars are very reliable mechanically, I suggest that we cannot plan ahead for a collision, and clear the hard shoulder ready for the Emergency Services. That hard shoulder needs to be available all the time.
The news also reported that there were no gantry signs above the carriageway so that the speed limit could be lowered in the event of fog.
Surely the drivers can see the vehicles ahead of them disappearing into mist or fog, and start adjusting their speed and "safety bubble" accordingly? Surely it makes sense for people to drive with enough space in front of them, to be able to slow or stop safely? In fact, The Highway Code states in Rule 126:
"leave enough space between you and the vehicle in front so that you can pull up safely if it suddenly slows down or stops. The safe rule is never to get closer than the overall stopping distance (see Typical Stopping Distances diagram, shown below)
allow at least a two-second gap between you and the vehicle in front on roads carrying faster-moving traffic and in tunnels where visibility is reduced. The gap should be at least doubled on wet roads and increased still further on icy roads
remember, large vehicles and motorcycles need a greater distance to stop. If driving a large vehicle in a tunnel, you should allow a four-second gap between you and the vehicle in front.
If you have to stop in a tunnel, leave at least a 5-metre gap between you and the vehicle in front."
I am well aware that if you leave a gap in front of you, that it will be filled by someone else. If that happens, just ease off the gas pedal for a few seconds and build up the safety gap in front of you again. Even if you have to do that a number if times on a journey, then you will only arrive at your destination a few seconds later than you planned. That extra time would probably less less time than you having to wait at a red light at a junction, that's all.its not a lot. It's not going to get you sacked.
Surely it makes sense to drive safely, carefully, and with enough attention to be able to see what is happening around you, and to do something about it when it starts happening?
Why do people drive so fast and so close to each other, that a collision is inevitable when something goes wrong?
If in doubt, slow down.
If still in doubt, stop.
You cannot hit anything if you are not moving.
Leave enough time to complete your journey safely. Do not rely on luck, and the fact that you've survived without crashing so far, that it's not going to happen to you. It has just happened to over 100 families. Luckily, today, in that particular collision, there were no deaths. There were some serious injuries, but there were no deaths, this time. Despite that, over 100 families have been directly affected by that collision today. Over 100 extended families are changing the way they think about travelling.
Please, learn from others, drive safely. You are responsible for your actions and your safety. No-one else, just you.