“I WAS ABLE TO THROW THE Z4 SAVAGELY SIDEWAYS. IN THE OLDEN DAYS, I’D HAVE SOUGHT THE ASSISTANCE OF THE HANDBRAKE”
WHEN IT COMES TO adrenaline injections of the unpleasant kind – the fight-or-flight kind hardwired into our brains to protect us from bears in the woods waiting to eat our forebears – you really can’t beat a car accident.
I recently lived through the biggest crash I’ve never had, an experience that left me shaking with panic and fizzing with fury.
The collision-course correction I was involved in hit me on a yawning Tuesday morning as a I rounded a pleasant city bend that I take a few times a week, into a lane protected on one side by a concrete barrier. The sub-human in front of me, driving, you guessed it, a Toyota Camry, decided to pull an illegal, un-indicated and borderline suicidal U-turn across two lanes, and around the barrier, right in front of me, even as I approached at I’m-going-to-own-this-bend pace in a BMW Z4.
It occurred to me later, during many moments of rewind and reflection, that if I’d been on my previously preferred twowheel conveyance, I would most certainly have hit him, right in the passenger door, and would thus have unquestionably been hospitalised. Fortunately, cars give you far more options in these situations, and I was able to throw the Z4 savagely sideways (in the olden days, of course, I’d have sought the assistance of the handbrake, but the modern, button-operated version is not so handily convenient, a safety failing if ever there was one).
Somehow, I managed to pull up my vehicle, now at 90 degrees to my intended direction of travel, right next to The Idiot’s half
U-turned, accursed Camry. Without exaggeration, I believe we avoided swapping paint, and phone numbers, by less than a bee’s pubic hair.
My voluble and vicious review of this stranger’s driving abilities may have left him slightly deaf, even though he refused to wind down his window, but I felt entirely justified.
Still shaking as I pulled up at the next set of traffic lights, a man who had slid off Underbelly’s casting couch and into a gangster-looking Maserati pulled up next to me and shouted, “That was some amazing driving, I can’t believe that dickhead didn’t take you out.”
This led me to ponder what any other Australian driver might have done in a similar situation, the answer to which, in many cases, would have been to panic, grab the wheel like a life preserver and slam on the brakes, resulting in a solid and significant collision.
Yes, I was blessed with the good luck to have been driving a Z4, a vehicle that is entirely willing to get sideways (it also struck me that, in such extreme circumstances, systems like AEB are about as much use as brown-paper underpants).
But what undeniably made the difference in the end was driver training; the many, many hours of it I’ve done as a highly fortunate byproduct of doing my job.
In a world in which everyone was required to do even one tenth as much – a world like Germany, for example – it’s quite likely that a lot more accidents would be avoided. And perhaps, ideally, The Idiot in front of me might have been trained to do a head check before going full Suicide Squad on me.
Anything is possible.