This is what happens and this is how it feels. I was driving along a well-lit suburban street with my two small stepchildren in the back of the car. We were on the way to pick up my wife who had been working away for a few days, and we were all excited about seeing her. It was 6.35pm on a dark February evening and I had some rather gloomy Radiohead music on the CD player.So, the accident was avoidable by them, and not at all by you?
In an instant, a few yards in front of me was a small child. He was followed by an adult. I remember thinking "WHAT THE..." and then reflexively hit my brakes. The car skidded and I ran into both of them. The child flew through the air, caught in the beam of my headlights. I didn't see the adult.
It started to become clearer what had happened. The child had got out of a car in a side street and had run towards the main road; his aunt had screamed and run after him. Both had run into my path.This was confirmed by witnesses:
Somebody tapped me on the shoulder. "Are you all right, mate? I saw everything. The kid ran out in front of you – there was nothing you could have done." These were very kind words.And very true ones.
The ambulance then sped off and a police sergeant appeared. He was less friendly and spent a long time inspecting my car. He ordered the young policemen to chalk the road, to show the position of my car.And what have you learned from this?
My wife appeared, walking along the road with her luggage. The sergeant then allowed the car to be moved and one of the young policemen said he would take me home later. My wife drove the children home.
The police then explained that I would need to accompany them to the police station. They asked me if I had been intimidated by the crowd – I hadn't. The police were now friendly and sympathetic. The witnesses corroborated my story.
That accidents happen, no matter how careful you are? That children should always, always be supervised near roads?
So what has this experience done to me? Suddenly, a few speeding points on my licence don't seem quite so innocent. If you have any, you should also feel ashamed. It is easy to exceed the speed limit and, thankfully, on this occasion, I wasn't. Nor was I fiddling with my mobile phone, sat-nav, or CD player, all of which I have done before.So, this wasn’t your fault, all’s well that end’s well, and…
I think I was going at 20mph at the point of impact, and maybe now you will agree with me that that should be the speed limit in built-up areas.No. Actually, I won’t. Because children will still be killed, and then what? We reduce it to 10mph? 5mph? We ban cars altogether?