How Easily A Car Crash Can Happen | K53 Blog

It is often assumed that car crashes are always caused by high-speed driving, or reckless, irresponsible driving, or drunk driving. This short story is about a close friend of mine who nearly wrote himself and another driver off on his way back to Cape Town on the N2 from Port Elizabeth between Christmas and New Year, in 2014.

He was not guilty of any of the above causes of crashes and fatalities. His sin was simply lack of proper observation and poor judgement.


The situation and what happened

Lane Increase Road SignIt was on an uphill, where the left half of the single-lane two-way road branched into two lanes – one to the left for slow-moving vehicles, so that other vehicles can maintain their speed as they overtake the slow vehicles, such as trucks and small or old cars that don’t have the power to maintain their speed uphill. So, there were two lanes going uphill and the usual one lane for approaching vehicles coming downhill.

My friend was driving uphill at about 120 km/h in the right-hand faster lane when, in his rear-view mirror, he saw some cars approaching from behind him at a faster speed than he was doing. He decided to move over to the left, slow lane to allow them to overtake him, and he did so. Suddenly he realised that the car in front of him in the slow lane was indeed travelling very slowly – about 40 km/h he said.

Thinking as quickly as he could, he realised that if he braked heavily he would probably not be able to slow down enough soon enough in order to avoid rear-ending the slow car. So he chose the other option: he moved over quickly back into the fast lane. Meanwhile, the first of the cars behind him had already started overtaking him, but they were now both in the same lane, wide enough for only one vehicle. The other driver was forced to move over to the right-hand side of the road, facing any oncoming traffic. So, here we had a slow car being overtaken by my friend who was being overtaken by another vehicle, all happening at the same time in only two lanes legally and safely available.

Fortunately no collision happened and no one was injured. But according to his report, ‘it was a very close shave!’

THAT, ladies and gentlemen, is how a totally sober, non-speeding inattentive driver can cause a collision which might maim or kill himself and others, not to mention damaging the vehicles very badly.


The take-home message

  • Always follow the K53 Defensive Driving Standard — always.
  • Be vigilant at all times.
  • Be sure of the situation all around your vehicle all the time
  • Before changing direction or speed, do all the mirrors and blind spot observations as necessary, to make certain it is safe to execute the manoeuvre.
  • Always keep a safe distance around your vehicle, in front, behind and to the sides.
  • Don’t assume things without proper observation and anticipation of the possible consequences.

I hope this story gets to many people and helps to avoid a crash or few in the future. Please share it in your social media places.

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