On speed on the highway…

Posted: May 15, 2010 in Travelogues
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When I am on the highway I drive in mortal fear of crashing my car into a cow that will suddenly pop out of the greenery on the roadside! But more of that later!

What the four-lane highways and six-lane e-ways have done is that they have produced a breed of speed freaks that care neither for their own health or that of their fellow motorists. On Friday, while on our way back from Vadodara after holidaying in Rajasthan and Gujarat, I witnessed quite a few speed freaks, on the highways and the Mumbai-Pune E-way, and one bizarre crash, which left all of us quite shaken.

Just as we passed Bharuch, where we had been stuck in a traffic jam for 2.30 hrs and managed to crawl just 7 kms in that time, because of an accident on a bridge, we witnessed one more. Most of the motorists were driving at a moderate speed because of a diversion. Just about ten metres ahead of us, a jeep packed with people, which was probably the only vehicle which was speeding, tried to overtake a truck, just at the point where the diversion ended and we would be switching to the correct lane.

I still can’t figure what made the idiot driving the jeep overtake the truck at this juncture, because it was a matter of a few metres more, but he did and this is what happened next. The left wheel of the jeep crashed into the right wheel cover of the truck. The jeep was dragged a few metres. The truck swerved to the right. The jeep also swerved to the right but at an angle of 90 degrees and simultaneously turned a cartwheel, while crashing to the ground. And all this couldn’t have taken more than 3 to 4 seconds.

I saw a man lying inert on the ground a few feet from the jeep, and two people sticking out of the window lifelessly. Whether the man on the ground flew out of the windscreen or was an innocent pedestrian, I am not sure. As my fellow motorists and I stopped our vehicles and rushed towards the smashed jeep, we saw some sign of life inside. Someone pushed the door open and climbed out.

Sandwiched between two lanes of trucks on NH 8 as we wait for the traffic jam to clear at Bharuch

As we drove away a few minutes later we were all talking about the accident, but I think it left us all pretty shaken. I don’t think I went over 80 kpmh for a long time after that!

Now coming to cows…We (the bovine and I) have a strange relationship. Twice before I’ve had to take the car to the service station, when we were in Lucknow, after having hit a cow head-on! You probably think I’m crazy, but I assure I’m not. The road dividers in Lucknow are not just simple pieces of stone. They are miniature gardens about 2 feet from the ground and 3 feet wide, and in the heat, I guess there is no cooler place for bovines to rest.

So twice before, I’ve had the misfortune of seeing a bovine suddenly stepping down from the ‘garden’ onto the road just a few feet from me. In those few seconds, I have had the usual two options – avoid the bovine and hit a human or hit the bovine and hope to escape injury to myself. I’ve chosen to do the latter and have got away so far with a smashed car.

On the highway, soon after we left Udaipur on our way to Junagadh, we had another experience with a bovine. We must have been doing 100 kmph, and as we took a curve, just around 10-15 metres away in front of a cow stepped leisurely on the road from the greenery on the divider and started to cross the road. Thankfully, it didn’t stop, so we sped past without a mishap, but I don’t think I would have been writing this blog, had it suddenly changed direction. Amen!!
Till the next one…

  1. Despite the cows and the accidents, at least you had a good trip.
    There’s nothing we can do about speedsters, except change ourselves and gradually try and spread the message. Bit by bit.
    And Sir, you always manage to do that.

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