Sunday 20 July 2008

Cotham RTA

People say there is no community in Cotham, but when a large crunching sound happens in the street at 9 in the evening, all the neighbourhood comes out to see what happened. The driver of the Corsa was sitting down in a daze and not in any obvious need of first aid. Which was good, given the only trained first aider was myself, and on our last site training exercise we lost three of the two patients -from preventable issues. Here I got to stick up the hazard signs and take some pictures.

A red ford escort van had been descending Cotham Road, probably at or below the 30 mph speed limit. There is an 20mph sign, but it's a hint only to be ignored on school hours. A silver Corsa appears to have made a right turn into the path of this van, being hit hard enough to rotate round and do serious damage to both vehicles. With the fuel leakage and all, whoever dialled 999 asked for the set: Police, Ambulance and Fire.

While waiting for these to turn up, friends of the Corsa driver "mysteriously" turned up, at which point the driver tried to do a runner. This is where the Cotham community kicked in, as we managed to stop the driver and hold him there until the authorities arrived. That's what they don't show on Casualty, nor do they show that its the fire brigade who turn up first, as the police and both ambulances are busy in the city centre with the usual Friday night festivities.

When the police and ambulance did turn up, the Corsa driver was stuck in the ambulance and then, apparently, detained by the police, allegedly due to them being drunk.

What is apparent is that even at "urban" 30 mph speeds, a car-car collision is enough to do serious damage to cars, possibly even write them both off. The Escort van was built by Ford from its traditional balsa wood material, and without features such as air bags or ABS. The manufacturers fought tooth and nail against airbags being mandatory, because that would reduce profits (increased sales of unequipped cars, and the premium pricing of the feature for drivers who wanted it), and still make safety features -ABS, anti-skid, etc, as options except on fast cars whose engines make the features irrelevant. It is possible that here they could have made a difference.

What is also apparent is when such a collision occurs, it helps to have active engagement from the community. Not lynching the driver who screwed up, just retention, basic first aid, that kind of thing. Drivers should consider carrying a disposable camera for photographs -one with a flash.

Finally, know the laws of the road. Not just the "don't drive drunk" rule, but the fact that only the driver is liable. Because that Corsa appeared to have a head-shaped dent in the passenger side of the windscreeen, the side with no airbag. Yet no passenger. Whoever hit the window did a runner before anyone could get out and see what was up, possibly to call their friends over and get help home. Yet they didn't need to. They could have waited and been seen by an ambulance. Still, getting into a car with a driver who has been drinking is not what one would call a smart move; you can't expect them to think through the followup either. I believe my son has learned this lesson from watching the whole event instead of going to bed, and he was very proud of how his dad helped stop someone running away.

Mistakes: your purpose in life may be to serve as a warning to others


Rick said...

I would have thought that with a head shaped dent in the windscreen, the runner would need medical attention as well.

[Just discovered your blog via councillor Neil - will be a regular reader in future]

SteveL said...

yes, they probably did need help. So they should have stayed. Perhaps they had some reason to avoid the police.