Getting Into A Huge Car Crash

Getting Into A Huge Car Crash

Car Crash Picture

This morning on my commute I very nearly totalled my car in a nasty way.

The dual carriageway from Bromsgrove to Redditch is full of braindead, selfish morons on the best of days. When they’re not driving at 50mph on one of the safest 70mph roads in existence, they’re sat in the overtaking lane refusing to move back to the left hand lane – adn sometimes they’re doing both of these together! Either way, they’re too busy doing fuck-knows-what to be aware of anybody around them or to LOOK before doing stupid stuff.

Crashes are frequent, although I’ve never witnessed one so have no idea just how they manage it.

Today I very nearly found out first hand…

At least one other morning this week I passed some big yellow steel heavy plant vehicle thingy, which was crawling along in the left hand lane doing, by my estimation, less than 20mph.

Of course, all the idiots don’t notice this until the last second, and everyone slams on their brakes and pulls quickly out into the overtaking lane without any thought for car travelling at high speed who have the right of way in that lane. I thought it looked very dangerous and wondered if it’s even legal to have something going that much slower without a Police escort or something?

Well this morning I was in that overtaking lane taking a somewhat treacherous left hand bend (past the infamous Cloverleaf junction, funnily enough) doing at least 70mph when brake lights of cars ahead started coming on.

Thanks to the kind of observation skills you only get from years of riding motorbikes, I saw this all nice and early and was already quite hard on the brakes expecting the couple of cars behind The Yellow Thing to swerve around it and cut me up.

The car immediatly behind The Yellow Thing as I approached seemed to have braked down to the same speed of The Yellow Thing (i.e. under 20mph) as I closed on them still on the brakes just in case… and then the retarded motherfucker pulled straight out in front of me, even though I could see he had a good few car-lengths gap to The Yellow Thing.

I slammed on the brakes still mid-corner as hard as I could, locking up as I tried to scrub off around 30-50mph in the very short distance he’d left me with, with the car slewing sideways on the brakes.

I still had control of the car even at this jaunty angle, but I remember thinking “There is absolutely nothing more I can do here” as I had to wait to see if I’d stop in time or I’d plough into the back of the car…

Thankfully, the Cock-Knuckle in the car then pulled back into the left hand lane, as he was blatantly doing less than The Yellow Thing even though he’d pulled out(!!?!), and I got off the brakes and got myself pointing in the right direction again.

Looking over at Cock-Knuckle as I passed, he did that thing where they stare directly ahead and don’t even dare to acknowledge your existence. THAT makes me want to rip their fucking throats out!

It’s the only time so far I’ve come close to crashing a car, and I have to say I’m accrediting that to the advanced driving I did as soon as I passed my test only a year and a half ago. I’m pretty happy sliding a car and getting it out of shape, and if I wasn’t then I think that one would have been me done-for! If you haven’t done it already GET YOURSELF BOOKED ONTO A SKID CONTROL COURSE!!! I can’t say it enough, because it will save your life!

Spending some time in a kart is also excellent practice and you can get it out of shape fairly safely so you get used to controling it.

As ever, it’s Sods Law that this was the one day I didn’t have the bloody camera running in the car – so unfortunately I can’t upload the video of it all. Hopefully I won’t ever get to repeat it, so you never will see it!

Afterwards, I thought about what would have happened had I been on the bike as I’d considered doing? Would I have been going faster? Could I have stopped as quickly without losing the front end (and bouncing over curbs into the oncoming traffic)?

Would I have tried going for the gap between Cock-Knuckle and The Yellow Thing and been taken out as Cock-Knuckle pulled back in?

What if someone had been behind me, if I’d been on either vehicle?

One thing I do know is that The Yellow Thing is going to cause a major accident…

More Skidmarks Than A Curried-up Pub Crawl!

More Skidmarks Than A Curried-up Pub Crawl!

Almost as soon as I’d passed the car test I was turning my attention towards what else I could do to get some fun out of the boring four wheeled stuff.

There are a fair few courses around to train you up to control a skid.  Most of these seem to be held at race circuits as part of a ‘Gift Experience’ type setup.  They seemed ok.  The going rate appears to be around £99 for your session, but reading the small print you only get around twenty minutes of actual driving time!

Now, assuming these are valuable life-saving skills and not just the bloody good laugh that I wanted, twenty minutes seems a little bit short to me!  Imagine learning any brand new skill for the first time.  Twenty minutes of that will just about get it through yer noggin what you’re supposed to be doing – but nothing more…

So I searched around a bit to find other schools offering skid-pan training but with more actual driving time.

I found and as a bonus,  they were offering more like 90 mins driving time for £85!  Bargain!

Even better is that they just use normal cars (although they used slick tyres as I found out) rather than the cradles with wheels on like most other places have.  They may be good, but surely they’re not quite as realistic?

Saturday was that date, and I headed around the filthy country lanes around Corby to try and find the damned place.  Eventually I found the old airfield, and having avoided pot-holes all around the runways the size of a fat kids lunchbox, I pulled in to find just the instructor (Stan) and a female Other Monkey ready to drive.

After talking us through the basics of why a car skids (tyres lose traction) and what causes it (mud, diesel, water, leaves, ice, cow-pat etc) we jumped in the front wheel drive car with Stan at the wheel and he took us out onto the skid pan.

The skid panconsisted of an oval track with two ‘roads’ running through the middle to do braking maneouvres.  It was damp and Stan had helpfully poured lots of vegetable oil all over one half of the track.  As you do.

Stan drove us around first, showing us what to expect and what to do about it, then we swapped seats and I took it in turns with Other Monkey to have a go.

First was the FWD (Front Wheel Drive) car – I think it was a Ford Orion – on full slicks.  Driving around the outisde course, I hit the vegetable oil mid-turn and the little bastard just goes straight on!  We tried it slamming the brakes on and steering hard to the side with the same results.  Then under Stans expert guidance we tried lifting straight off the gas and turning the wheel just slightly, taking steering off until grip came back and getting some steering control back.

This was the key for the FWD – lift off and steer slightly where you want to go.  We did the same for braking in a straight line and trying to avoid an imaginary truck ahead.

Next we jumped in the RWD (Rear Wheel Drive) car – a Ford Sierra – for the bit I’d most been looking forward to!

Driving the outside course we hit the oil, and whether you hit the brakes or eased off you could instantly feel the back start to swing around.  Then it was a case of getting as much opposite lock on as fast as you could to try and catch it before it spun, and then judging it so you don’t over-correct it – which meant it started to spin back around in the opposite direction.

Most of the cars in the UK (and Europe) by a lonnnng way are FWD.  As I understand it, most cars in the US are RWD?  Well if that’s true then you’re lucky gits!!!

The FWD was a bugger.  All you could hope for was to get it to turn eventually.  And this is safer?

The RWD in contrast was an absolute hoot!  It came around so slowly and predictably that if you were quick it was easy to catch.  Best of all, it was totally controllable.  Where the FWD had no ‘feel’ to it, in the Sierra you knew exactly what was going on all the time.

The best bit about the course was that after the Instructor had shown you, and then watched you do each task, he then got out of the car and let you have a go completely on your own!  Now THAT is something that boosts your learning curve no end!

It also meant that I got to try getting straight back on the gas and powersliding and drifting around the course – which, let’s face it, is something every person who’s ever played Forza or GT or just about any other driving game has ALWAYS wanted to try!

Yes – it is as much fun as you think it would be!

It was a great few hours and I learnt loads AND had a good laugh.  As it turned out, we had over two hours in the cars.  Oh, and we got a certificate, too.

For the last bit I clipped one of my mini cameras to my jumper to try and get a bit of footage – unfortunately you can’t see much over the wheel, but you can watch my hands going for it like a cheesey UK hardcore raver!

Highly recommended – get theeself to one now!  It could even save your life!

Thoughts Confirmed: Car Drivers Are Spastics

Thoughts Confirmed: Car Drivers Are Spastics

Having spent the last 10 years riding through Winter on a variety of hideously unsuitable sportsbikes, this will be my first ever on four wheels.

I’m sure most of you have seen my videos from last year riding in the snow – the most noteable where I took out my near-1000hp per tonne Kawasaki ZX9R Ninja and attempted to get through the snow to a main road to get to work.  When I did reach the main roads, they were almost as bad, and I eventually gave up when I started sliding backwards and sideways down a hill.

At the time this wasn’t exactly ‘fun’, but looking back now I have to say I rather enjoyed the challenge, and am especially glad to have caught it on camera!

And while bad, this wasn’t the worst!  A few years before I’d ridden my Honda VFR750 FM down more than 10 miles of abandoned roads covered in 6″ of snow, passing many cars which had given up.  Ironically, this journey also ended with me sliding backwards down a hill within sight of my house, and I had to dump the bike in a safe place for the night.

Now THAT was both very scary and very kick-ass!

I love to do stuff that nobody else has done.  Stuff that nobody else would even attempt to do!

If that involves using some actual skills and talent then it’s a proper bo bonus!

So I booked up a skid-pan training course to do in the car.  And the snow hit yesterday with my course still a few weeks away!  Doh!

Now, I’m fully aware that I’m still a rookie driver, even though I’m eager to grab any advanced training that I can.

Right now I’m no Driving God.  OK, so I have to slow down my thinking to drive cars, because it all happens so much slower than on a bike.  Apparently this biking stuff has taught me to be a perfectionist on the controls, actually THINK about the whole driving experience, and plan well in advance.

And THAT’S the problem!

Come on!  If I can be smooth and not crash a 16 year old rustbucket on skinny tyres, then what the Hell is every other flid doing on the roads?

I have renamed the Bromsgrove-Redditch dual carriageway ‘Flid Road’, because every single day some fuck-tard manages to crash and close it off!

Honestly, I’m the Rookie and yet nobody else has a -ing clue about how to drive as soon as they’re faced with adverse conditions?  It’s shocking!

Or maybe it’s because I invested in a Madcatz steering wheel controller for the Xbox 360, and if I can get a TVR Cerbera around Mugello on road tyres, a snowy commute in a Fiat Uno just isn’t going to challenge my skillz?