Those of you who have followed my adventures will know that my life isn’t a dull one. In recent months:
Eve’s been allowed to go back to university
E Class was hit by a coach in Cambridge
Mrs MRS cut the end of her finger off gardening
Charlie graduated with a first from Cambridge
Dog had to be put down
Tax man is investigating for a “common error” with Dutch tax
I’ve been promoted to managing 500 people in 8 different countries
Half of my house is currently demolished in a reconfiguration project
but I’m not happy with that, in a break from over 25 accident-free years of driving, I managed to hit (fortunately in a glancing blow) the back of a stationary Renault Clio on the M25. I was doing 60 in the Merc SL on a free-flowing motorway when the car ahead of me swerved out of lane 4 at the same point I was looking in my rear-view mirror. Focusing forward again, I realised that lane 4 (and only lane 4) was completely stationary. I hit the brakes and swerved hard but caught front headlight to rear light. I stopped about 100 metres further on in lane 1 (in a bid to get off the motorway) - a combination of the fuel cut-off and broken alloy, halting progress.
Both drivers (me and Clio) were OK but shaken (the impact spun the Clio) and both cars were off the motorway pretty quickly. Damage to the cars is localised but pretty heavy (impact removed the rear wheel of the Clio). A direct impact would have been pretty bad. I was very pissed off with myself.
Few ironies here. I was only travelling to Cambridge to leave the SL with Mrs MRS whilst the E Class is fixed. Secondly, whilst totally my fault, the “smart motorway” variable limits create situations like this. I’ve seen it literally hundreds of times: people braking hard as they reach the overhead gantries where cameras might be - creating phantom stoppages that you simply don’t get when average speed cameras are used. Waiting to be recovered, I saw the stoppages form and dissipate over and over. The Highways Womble that came to our rescue (and very good he was too)
said that the speed gantries lead to this behaviour. Final irony is that, because I didn’t get my spark plugs changed at the service, Merc wouldn’t recover my car. See the link? Damned if I do.
Anyhow, despite the localised damage, there’s a reasonable chance the SL is a write off. Nearly all the damage is confined to the front wing area with the bonnet only slightly bent at the edge (aluminium is very soft).
Anyhow - no one was hurt and I don’t particularly care - apart from inconveniencing the other driver and a few other motorists for a short time.
I would like a slightly quieter life for a bit.