M5 Crash

At approximately 8.30pm on Friday 4th November, the largest multi-car pile up in 20 years occurred on the M5, near Taunton, Somerset. I wanted to find out more so visited the Sky News website. There are already many comments from visitors; some which are completely ridiculous.

7 people were killed, many injured and approximately 34 vehicles involved. The cause of this accident is currently unknown but there is plenty of speculation. There have been reports of rain, fog and a fireworks display next to the motorway; all of these could potentially be a contributing factor. People on the Sky News website (many of them ignorant) have also blamed 3 other primary contributing factors, obviously forgetting that the police have specialist investigation for such incidents. These are lorry drivers, speed and the fact that the clocks went back last weekend.

Apparently, because there are articulated vehicles involved in this pile-up, a lorry driver ‘obviously’ caused all of this because all lorry drivers tailgate and overtake other articulated vehicles at a slow speed unnecssarily. What a load of shit. Yes, lorry drivers tailgate sometimes, but so do bus drivers. And coach drivers. And motorcyclists. And car drivers.
I used to be a coach driver and regularly use the motorway. I would always leave a safe distance between myself and the vehicle in front. Sometimes, another vehicle (usally a car) would pull in front of me, reducing the gap. I’d then have to ease of the accelerator and create my gap again.

It’s inevitable that I’d catch up with a slow moving vehicle so at some point would need to overtake. I’d carry on accelerating and would start indicating to pull out. Someone would let me out and I’d overtake the slow vehicle. Unfortunately, it could take a while for a large vehicle to overtake another large vehicle, but how does that cause problems? There’s a third lane- use it! Blaming lorry drivers for this particular pile-up or indeed any other pile-up is ridiculous and done only by the naive and uneducated.

Now for speed. Some are saying that this should be a reason not to increase our national speed limit to 80mph- of course it’s not a reason. The current limit for our motorways is 70mph. More specifically, 70mph is the maximum permissable speed by law- it is not a legal requirement to do 70mph. It is exactly the same if the limit is increased to 80mph- if he road conditions don’t warrant doing the maximum speed, then you shouldn’t be doing it. If a driver isn’t intelligent enough to make that call (probably the same type of person who has automatic headlights and window wipers) on their own, then they are likely to be the cause of such pile-ups in the future. Cars are much safer and much more economical nowadays and an increase in the national speed limit is natural progression. This pile-up could still have occurred if our national speed limit was 60mph.

Finally, it would still have been dark at 8.30pm even if the clocks didn’t go back the previous weekend. I agree that we should keep the same time all year round and should not have to change our clocks twice a year, but this pile-up is hardly a reponsible argument for this.

Ultimately, each and every driver of any vehicle involved in that pile-up on the M5 is partly responsible. Crashing into another vehicle is the result of not keeping your distance, not being aware of and preparing for other road users’ actions and not adjusting your driving to accomodate the driving conditions. It is possible that someone swerved suddenly and hit another car- you can’t do anything about that. But generally, it’s because you thought it would be alright to carry on doing 70mph as you drive into a fog patch in wet conditions.

I’m sorry, but most of these drivers can only blame themselves. Of course, I’m sympathetic and feel sorry for the victims, their friends and their families but I’m also angy because I know that this terrible incident could probably have been lessened in it’s severity if everyone was paying attention to what was happening in front of them.

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