Today I hit a child at 20mph & realised the speed limit must be cut

Discussion in 'OT (OFF Topic) Forums' started by Dave Richardson, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. Dave Richardson

    Dave Richardson Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    This was taken from the Skyuser site but makes you think

    In an impassioned appeal, Dr Nick Foreman remembers the near-fatal accident that convinced him of the need to stop motorists driving at 30mph in built-up areas

    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.

    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.

    Traffic stopped behind me and on the other side of the road ahead of me. For a few seconds everything was still. The child, who looked about three years old, was crying in a heap a few yards in front of my car; the adult had been thrown further.

    I stopped thinking normally. I had no idea what to do. It was probably only 30 seconds after the accident and already a crowd was appearing. I realised that I needed to phone the emergency services and I went back to my car and got my phone. I couldn't bring myself to address my children in the back seat.

    Ringing 999 seemed to takes ages. There was a dislocation between the absolute panic now enveloping me and the calm voice on the other end. I grabbed a bystander to ask where we were. By this point, a large number of people had gathered.

    My victims were clearly local with lots of family and friends in the vicinity. They surrounded the bodies lying on the road and after a few false starts at trying to be a doctor, I gave up. I felt incompetent and could only think that I had done this.

    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.

    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. I remembered my children. I put my head back into the car – both were crying. I said everything was going to be fine, but I had no idea whether this was the truth.

    On the road, nothing had changed. I rang my wife, incoherent. "Something awful has happened..." She was calm. She established where I was and said she'd be there shortly in a taxi. The traffic was backed up on either side of the car. It must have been about seven or eight minutes after the accident when an off-duty paramedic appeared and took control.

    After a further five minutes or so the police arrived – lots of them. I was identified as the driver and was told to switch off my engine and sit in my car. Then a rapid-response team arrived in an ambulance car and another five minutes after that, thank God, an ambulance. I heard them apologise for being so long.

    The policemen were very young. They were polite but firm and they started to appeal for witnesses, whom they began to interview as the ambulance men got out stretchers to carefully move the bodies.

    A man tapped on my car window. I got out. He said he was the child's father. He asked me how I was and said he thought his son was going to be OK. A paramedic then came over. He told me not to be frightened about the stretchers, he didn't think there had been any major injuries.

    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.

    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.

    The ride in the police car was short and the police station was cold. I couldn't stop shaking. The Breathalyser test was carefully explained and I passed it. I was led through my witness statement by one policeman as another checked my car insurance and tax on their databases.

    I was then told that no action would be taken against me and I was taken home by one of the young policemen. He told me to ring him if I needed to talk. He rang me a day or two later and told me that the aunt and the child had no broken bones and were both at home nursing some bruising.

    The aunt wanted to talk to me and he asked whether he could give her my phone number. She rang me a few minutes later to tell me that she and her nephew were both well and to thank me for not driving fast. I told her that it was brave of her to try to save the child, and she laughed.

    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.

    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.

    Dr Nick Foreman is a GP from Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. This article is published in this week's British Medical Journal
     
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  2. Doodle

    Doodle Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Very impassioned, but I come away from it with the following thoughts:

    I have no objection to cutting the speed limit, but what about teaching children not to run out in the road? The latter would seem to be cause of the accident, the former can only mitigate its effects.

    If by his estimation he was doing 30 and scrubbed off enough so that he hit them at 20, the lower limit still wouldn't have prevented the impact.
     
  3. geraldrobins

    geraldrobins Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I'm sure most children are taught road sense but we all can make mistakes.
    My own son was hit crossing the road, fortunately not seriously injured, and he knew the Green Cross Code etc, but presumably something distracted him or he daydreamed.

    Surely the impact would have been less at a lower speed.

    I suppose a view has to be taken regarding a safe speed and the likelihood of a pedestrian or child running out.
     
  4. boxbrownie

    boxbrownie Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    But had he been doing only 20mph maybe he would have been able to stop, or at very least hit the pair at a substantially lower impact speed.

    :dk:
     
  5. renault12ts

    renault12ts MB Club Veteran

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    My 25 year old daughter ran on to the road...I was shouting (screaming, if truth be told) at her to stop...the cars stopped. I have never been so grateful to anyone as the woman who could have killed her.

    My daughter was 3 at the time...it only took a couple of seconds for the nightmare to unfold.
     
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  6. poormansporsche

    poormansporsche Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    Speed limits are pretty irrelevant really as people who drive at 30 mph in a residential street are going to drive at 30 whatever the limit.

    A year or so ago I was driving down a back street with parked cars either side, as I was in my Luton I was probably only doing 15mph when this bint on a mobile pushed a buggy out between 2 parked cars without looking. Fortunately I managed to stop on a penny but only an inch away from the buggy. The kiddie burst into tears and the mother didn't even bother ending the call to comfort it.

    I'm not one for road rage but I had to give her a piece of my mind, even when I gave it to her she didn't get off the phone, she just piffed her teeth at me and ****** off with the kiddie still crying.

    If I had been doing 30 both would probably be dead
     
  7. Doodle

    Doodle Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    The latter certainly, the former I suspect not.

    What concerns me is the increasing expectation that it is ok to divest responsibility for our safety onto others. One only needs to look at the amount of people, adults and children alike, walking around staring at a smartphone screen rather than paying attention to where they are going, as eloquently demonstrated in the post above.

    Do we not teach self-reliance and accountability for one's own actions anymore?
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  8. markjay

    markjay MB Club Veteran

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    The issue is not with the speed limit as such... the issue is with speed itself.

    I often drive through areas in North East London where entire neighbourhoods have the 20mph limit.

    I seem to be the only driver observing this speed limit... often tailgated, honked-at, or overtaken by other impatient drivers. I get the middle-lane-hogger treatment even thought these are single lane roads...

    The issue is that when imposing blanket speed limit on an area, as opposed to specific streach of road, some wide streets are bound to fall under the catchment area, which will leave drivers perplexed as to this '20 mph nonesense'.

    And before you say 'better enforcement'... as soon as you you do that, this causes deep resentment among many drivers, and we see the usual 'hate' posts about councils treating motorists as cash cows etc etc.

    Not sure what the answer is, really...
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  9. DrFeelgood

    DrFeelgood MB Club Veteran

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    I think that the point that the author was trying to make, or the one that I took from his piece is that cars are solid and humans are squishy and, erm human.

    To me that means that humans are vulnerable road users and prone to making mistakes.

    I really cannot see any harm in taking more care around urban streets.
     
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  10. geraldrobins

    geraldrobins Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    We do, but we don't want to run people down and be able to say its not my fault and that they ought to know better, do we?
     
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  11. SPX

    SPX MB Club Veteran

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    I think a three year old gets a pass on both counts.
     
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  12. markjay

    markjay MB Club Veteran

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    I think that in this case it applies to the parents or other responsible adult. Three-year-olds do not usually run around unsupervised.
     
  13. Doodle

    Doodle Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    At no point did I say anything in that regard, Gerald, but thank you for trying to twist my words to meet your inference.

    That clearly wouldn't be a responsible action either, and would thus demonstrate my point equally well.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  14. Pontoneer

    Pontoneer MB Club Veteran

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    It shouldn't be a matter of speed limits ; it should be a matter of common sense to determine a speed appropriate to the circumstances anywhere at all .

    Sadly , common sense seems to be particularly uncommon :(
     
  15. geraldrobins

    geraldrobins Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I had no intention of twisting your words. Nor did I infer that you said 'anything in that regard'

    I agreed with you regarding self reliance etc.

    But read it how you like.
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2016
  16. grober

    grober MB Club Veteran

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    Two issues here
    1 concerns the likelihood of colliding with a child in a built up area. Complex multi factorial situation. responsable parents, braking capability of car, driver alertness, road conditions, visibility, day v night proximity of places which have higher than average child population at certain times of day etc etc.

    2 Speed of vehicle hitting child---- this is down to physics pure and simple - body weight- inertial acceleration - strength of bones etc etc these are in general immutable factors which will not change no matter what part of 1 applies.
    Generally speaking hitting a child at 20mph is a survivable event hitting a child at 30 is often fatal. Lots accumulated medical/traffic accident data to back this up.
    Seem sensible therefore to impose 20MPH limits in certain geographical areas and at certain times where child density is predicably high. School environs at start stop of the academic day etc. At the same time the offense of jaywalking should be added to the police armoury of offences to be levelled against older kids who appear to willing at flout measures put in place to increase their safety.
     
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  17. geraldrobins

    geraldrobins Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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  18. boxbrownie

    boxbrownie Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    It appears not, at least to the majority of morons who walk, shop, run, ride, drive and live their whole lives with a mobile device glued to either eyes or ears.
     
  19. Hawkwind

    Hawkwind Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    A speed limit is exactly that :- the maximum speed permitted under ideal conditions.

    If anything affects those conditions, making them less than ideal, be it visibility, road grip ect. It is the responsibility of the driver to reduce their speed to one that is safe for the prevailing conditions and their own abilities.

    If we all (me included), drove in this way (all the time), it would solve a lot of the problems we all encounter every day on the roads.

    I try to. but I'm not always successful.

    We're all human :dk:
     
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  20. davidjpowell

    davidjpowell Hardcore MB Enthusiast

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    I think the message is less about speed limits, they are but a number that any diver can chose to ignore or obey.

    Instead it's more about speed. There's a trend for more and more areas to make their residential limits 20. In fact, most of these roads, given the built up nature and the over parked side streets most drivers would probably not be exceeding that in any case. Does a 20 limit encourage more drivers that it's safe to drive at that?

    I wonder whether if we were better hazard trained we would be better with no speed limit at all? Instead relying on our own judgement based on time of day, traffic, neighbourhood, visibility etc. It's an interesting thought.

    I was lucky. When I was 17, not long past my test I was driving in a residential area, and notice from a kid disappearing in front of van. I'd eased my speed down, as he appeared in front of the bonnet. Fortunately I had enough time to stop.. just. Could easily have been very different.
     

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