A Journey Up North

Taunton local, Jim Read (54) thought that he was an experienced driver who had ‘seen it all before’ however, on a trip up North to catch a flight, he soon found out how easy it can be to lose your way and get into serious troubles on the roads of Somerset and beyond…

” I like to think I’m a pretty confident driver.

Before I had my accident last year, I’d had over 30 years of driving incident-free – you could say that I’d got a little complacent…

I passed my driving test, in my lifelong home of Taunton, when I was 18.

first-car-passed

I’d passed first time and spent my first summer zipping around the back lanes of the Blackdown Hills with my friends, relishing the freedom that owning a car gives you. Of course, my parents warned me of the dangers of joy riding and how the most dangerous element of the roads were the other drivers, but this mattered little to my young teenage mind. I escaped my teens (and my twenties) accident free and, as a result, entered into adult life as a confident driver – perhaps too confident.

teacher-view-blogLast year, I was due to take a holiday to Dubai. My daughter, Sarah, works out there as a teacher and I was looking forward to soaking in the foreign environs and spending some quality time with her.

The flight I booked was from Liverpool John Lennon Airport, a 4-hour drive from my home town.

My flight was in the early afternoon, meaning I’d have to drive through the morning rush hour to make it to check in on time.

I felt that I’d prepared as much as I could. My route, a simple jaunt up the M5 then onto the M6, had been planned. My bags had been packed and my Liverpool Airport Parking had been booked (I was planning on leaving my car at the Airport for the week I was away, and driving it back home after) – as far as I was concerned, nothing could go wrong.

I’ve always stayed within the speed limits, firm in the belief that, with proper planning, I can always reach my destination without the need to speed.

Of course, sometimes others don’t think the same.

It turns out that a certain businessman driving a Mercedes Class-C had, perhaps, not planned his journey as well as me. Halfway between Bristol and Birmingham this hurried traveller, clearly dissatisfied with the progress that he was making at a meagerly 80 mph, decided to push his sports car to the very limit. I was breezing along at 60 in the furthest left hand lane, whilst a Ducati Monster safely passed on the right, when this man on a mission hurriedly zoomed by at over 100mph – grazing the biker on my right.

class-c-merc

The speeds at which both vehicles were travelling at caused a chain reaction that caused my car to be tangled in a 10-car pile up. The man in the Mercedes got away. The biker did not – he lay motionless 100-feet from his crumpled vehicle until the ambulance arrived to carry him away.

It took me over 30 years to be involved in my first RTA and the incident was caused through no fault of my own.

I can’t say that I’ve never broken the speed limit, but after that day I’ve made sure to stay well within it.”

RoadSafetySomerset.org.uk thanks Jim for his contribution to the website. If you’ve got an interesting or informative story on a treacherous journey that you’ve undertaken in Somerset, or elsewhere, then click through to our Contact page and send us a message in the comment box.