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cjard
I'm making this post to document an RTA that I witnessed. I'm doing this online to provide date and time stamping, transparency via public visibility and to garner further information (via questions from others) that I may know now but not realise is significant.
If you think I've missed anything out, please let me know!

At approximately 23:55 on Tuesday 5th August I was standing in the car park indicated in image 1 at roughtly the location of the red X having just exited the near by rugby club. I was talking quietly with two friends when I heard a vehicle travelling roughly eastbound on Lightfoot Lane at high speed. We all looked round as the sound of an engine being gunned approached. There was then a long skidding sound of tyres on wet tarmac followed by a loud bang. I set off running toward the accident and was the first on scene other than the two motorists involved.

When I arrived the two individuals involved had exited their cars and were walking around in the road. One of them was wearing a dark blue police uniform, approximately 6 feet tall, of slim athletic build and very short hair. The other, was a younger man of bigger build, wearing a white top and jeans. He appeared to have a broken collar bone. I asked the two men if there were any serious injuries and the response was a negative. The younger man was tlaking into a mobile phone assuring someone that the police were already on scene as participants to the RTA. I briefly left the scene, heading back toward my friends intending to check on them but they were already making their way to the accident and I returned to the scene. The police officer was now talking into the mobile phone. I presume he had made a phone call to the emergency services and was giving details in a familiar manner. He mentioned there had been a PVA and that it was a plain clothes car. He did not seem to be injured.

My friends attended to the young man and I decided to remain on scene to bear witness to the sequence of events. The blue and yellow police arrived. They began talking to the young man and he asked if he could sit somewhere. I recommended the police car that had just arrived, but the fluorescent officers recommende dthe bus stop at the other side of the road. There was some dialogue between the fluo police and the driver of the plain clothes car and I remained in earshot for reasons of curiousity and to check that things were being dealt with fairly.

I had some time to survey the scene. The road was wet, though it was not raining. Beginning roughly at a pedestrian crossing west of the rugby club entrance, were visible two unbroken skidmarks that crossed the carriageway into the opposing traffic flowing from east to west. The vehicle piloted by the police officer was a Y reg dark blue Vectra, bearing the badge SXi on the side. The vehicle piloted by the young man was an 05 reg dark grey Seat Leon Cupra R. Both vehicles had suffered extensive frontal impact damage to the extent of shunting of the front wheels out of alignment. Both vehicles had deployed all front air bags. I spoke to the driver of the Vectra, making an observation on the skid marks with the prompt "I'm surprised that a 2001 vectra does not appear to have ABS" - 'It does' replied the officer 'but it doesnt seem to have been working'
I then asked if the officer had been in a hurry to get somewhere. He briefly explained something about the necessity of finding an 82 year old man who had gone missing. He did not state that he was responding to an emergency call or some other kind of police business that would necessitate an urgent response.

I moved over to the bus shelter on the north side of the road to check on the young man. My two friends were comforting him. The fire service arrived and one of the firemen with some medical training attended to the young man who was complaining of a pain in his shoulder, foot (suspected broken or dislocated toe) and a shortness of breath/inability to breathe easily. Oxygen was supplied to the young man. The young man was asked some rudimentary questions relating to the vehicle ownership, insurance, seatbelt use, occupancy, destination etc. He also mentioned that he recalled a vehicle on the eastbound carriageway travelling away from the club, and that the vectra had appeared from behind that vehicle, onto his side of the road and that there was a collision. The fluo police mentioned that they had made an effort to hurry the ambulance up as it was taking a long time to arrive. I was then asked for my name, address and contact detail as a witness. The fluo police officers breathalysed the young man and the result showed him to either be zero or within the legal limit. The fluo then breathalysed the vectra driving police officer who also blew clear or within the legal limit.
I caught some snippets of conversation between the fluo and the vectra driver whereby the vectra driving officer explained that he had been proceeding down the road in an eastbound direction when someone had pulled out of the rugby club and proceeded along in an eastbound direction at a low speed. The officer had slammed on the brakes to avoid a collision and as his car was travelling round a slight left hand bend at the time, the locking of the wheels had lost all directional control and his car had slid in a straight line across the road and into the front of the approaching Seat. As best I can represnt on the google earth image below, are the tracks of the two cars. The red path describes the rough points where the Vectra's skid marks began and where it impacted the Seat. The blue line describes the motion of the Seat.
As a number of people had left the rugby club within that few minutes it was likely that the claim someone had exited the club driveway and turned left, is true. Some investigation could be made as to the identity of the driver as it would be one of a limited group of regular people who stay to the end of the event held on a tuesday night. The vectra driver did not state in any conversation that I heard, that he was exceeding the speed limit, but I find it highly likely that it was the case. The club exit is on a slight bend that is somewhat obscured by trees. Anyone exiting the club will proceed with caution, but there is enough time to make a judgement not to pull out if confronted by a vehicle travelling at the posted 40 mph speed limit. A vehicle exceeding the 40 limit would shorten the time available to make a decision and owing to the situation of the road make for a very dangerous sequence of events. It is my belief that a vehicle waiting to pull out would not do so if confronted by a vehicle travelling at 40 mph on the eastbound carriageway but if it did pull out, then at a speed of 40mph there would be sufficient distance at the maximum of visible range, for there to be no problem in completing the manouver and for the approaching vehicle to slow so as not to collide with the vehicle pulling out. If the confronting vehicle was doing 60 or more, it would have little chance of stopping if at even the earliest opportunity it reacted to a vehicle pulling out, especially given the road conditions on this particular evening. While I have no conclusive proof of speeding I find it highly likely that the Vectra was exceeding the posted 40mph speed limit

The ambulance arrived as the fire service began disabling the electrical systems. After I made sure he had everything from the car that he wanted, the young man was put into the ambulance and I passed him my number for his own use. I photographed the cars using a rather poor quality mobile phone camera, then returned to my car and left the scene at roughly 00:30 on 6 august 2008.
andy_foster
If you want to ensure the integrity of this post (above) as a time-stamped contemporaneous note, do not edit it (6 minutes after the original post is neither here nor there).
cjard
Good point. Further:

The general mood of the vectra driving police officer throughout the entire incident was a mild amount of concern but largely unapologetic. He spent a good deal of time standing quietly to one side and not interacting. The mood and demeanour of the young man was one of shock, and some stress (things will have happened pretty fast for him) but an overall submissiveness, probably in part because a police officer had run into him and part because things were a bit of a whirlwind set of happenings. He spent most of his time sitting in the near by bus shelter not talking because he was finding breathing somewhat difficult. I'd remained on scene primarily for the concern that the young guy would have been a bit overwhelmed by having been involved in an RTA with a police officer rather than a normal member of the public, and I did not want for him to be ambushed or overwhelmed by the police presence into being more passive and accepting than he should have been. The fluo police were supportive and helpful and in the conversations that I overheard, did not appear to blame any party or exhibit any bias other than a token amount of familiarity towards procedure with the vectra driving police officer. Neither party admitted liability to my knowledge.
Pete D
Excellent point Andy. Pete D
cjard
Having just spoken to another witness who left the rugby club a few minutes before me I have some things to add:

The said witness exited the entrance to the club and turned right some moments before the accident. As such she passed the Vectra as she headed westbound and it headed eastbound. She recalls forming an opinon that the vectra was going very fast, and she estimated that it was doing at least 60 mph. I would support this estimate judging by what I observed from the sound travel, the length of skid marks and the damage incurred by both vehicles. I'll ask if she knows of anyone that might have left the club just after her, as it will reduce the number of possible drivers likely to be the in charge of the car that both RTA participants say was on the eastbound carraigeway just before the accident.

A sticking point now arises in my mind that this driver who pulled out and accelerated away might have been aware that the accident had occurred. Can anyone offer any advice as to whether this makes the driver liable to being charged with AC10 Failing to Stop? Though his vehicle was physically undamaged and left the scene, it has been cited as a factor in the sequence of events, by both drivers. As noted above, the young man was aware of a vehicle on the other side of the road, but he wasnt sure if it was a bus or a car. The police driver was aware that he had braked sharply to avoid a vehicle that had completed an emerge-from-side-road manouver. If that driver is proven to have known of the accident, but he was not at the scene later, is he guilty of AC10?
Watcher
Fascinating - I'd just like to add that I have had a similar Vectra and I can tell you for definite that try as you might it would NOT leave skid marks!

I don't know if it would have done if the ABS had been inoperative, but had that been the case there would have been a warning light on the dash.
Hotel Oscar 87
Hi cjard

Out of interest, what is your motive in all of this? As a witness to a relatively minor incident the apparent depth of interest is unusual.

As a third party and witness to the events you could be asked (if you haven't been already) to provide a factual statement but attempting to cover all eventualities by preparing the information in the above form is unlikely to assist. In terms of what such a prepared account might do to your credibility as an otherwise independent witness is difficult to estimate but is likely to to provide plenty of ammunition to one or other side (defence/prosecution) to suggest that you are being partisan.

Too little information has been provided to assess whether the mystery driver would be liable for any offences. Why would the potential liability, or otherwise, of this driver be of interest to you? AC10 is simply the endorsement code shown on a counterpart driving licence after conviction at Court.

In relation to the caution in the above second paragraph you should be aware that the "darkside" lurk here on a regular basis and the detail provided would enable you to be identified - if you are not already known. A simple Google reveals where this accident occurred.
Zed Victor One
cjard, 'If owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on a road an accident occurs' springs to mind so whilst the emerging vehicle may not have had contact with either of the vehicles subsequently involved it appears that it may have been it's presence which has caused the resulting collision. As a consequence if traced teh driver may become liable for failing to stop at or failing to report an accident.
I presume you ask because it is likely to be a friend or associate from the rugby club and your concerned that if identified they may be prosecuted?
Ignoring the possible speed element of the Vectra, if you were the driver of the Seat in similar circumstances what would you think of someone who had contributed to a collision occuring and then just driven off?
cjard
QUOTE (Hotel Oscar 87 @ Wed, 6 Aug 2008 - 14:36) *
Out of interest, what is your motive in all of this? As a witness to a relatively minor incident the apparent depth of interest is unusual.

Sorry, but I don't find a police driver exceeding the speed limit and having actually realised a danger to other road users to be a minor incident (not that they would be treated any differently to a civilian, but I've known from advice here that police are allowed to break laws in performance of their duty if they justify it - a measure which could potentially be open to abuse to the detriment of the bystanding motorist).
I've been asked to provide a witness statement many times in my life for a variety of circumstances and they have always come some weeks after the event where my memory has faded somewhat. The motivation for posting here was for the experienced people here to prompt me with questions and things I may not have initially deemed significant, yet if asked now I'll be able to remember, whereas being asked in a few weeks might leave me unable to answer.

QUOTE
As a third party and witness to the events you could be asked (if you haven't been already) to provide a factual statement but attempting to cover all eventualities by preparing the information in the above form is unlikely to assist. In terms of what such a prepared account might do to your credibility as an otherwise independent witness is difficult to estimate but is likely to to provide plenty of ammunition to one or other side (defence/prosecution) to suggest that you are being partisan.

A good point. I'm trying to be as comprehensive as possible, because it is in my nature to be so as a result of what I do for a living, but I can see how it might be construed as excessive and representative of a hidden agenda/being a martyr to a cause

QUOTE
Too little information has been provided to assess whether the mystery driver would be liable for any offences. Why would the potential liability, or otherwise, of this driver be of interest to you?

He may or may not be known to me, but if I had any information that would assist in him being dealt with fairly, if he is to be dealt with at all, then surely I have a duty to give it? I dont think I'm breaking any laws here in detailing to the best of my knowledge a sequence of events I believe to be true for reference purposes and I'm not trying to architect a complex twist on the events that happened, but I'll take your sage words on board that ordinary people dont normally go into such a level of detail for these things. That's perhaps a shame in the interests of a fair and just ends.


QUOTE
In relation to the caution in the above second paragraph you should be aware that the "darkside" lurk here on a regular basis and the detail provided would enable you to be identified - if you are not already known. A simple Google reveals where this accident occurred.

I'm already known in that I said I would provide a statement if asked and left my details with the police that attended. If I misunderstood the spirit of your advice, please let me know?
cjard
QUOTE (Zed Victor One @ Wed, 6 Aug 2008 - 16:01) *
cjard, 'If owing to the presence of a motor vehicle on a road an accident occurs' springs to mind so whilst the emerging vehicle may not have had contact with either of the vehicles subsequently involved it appears that it may have been it's presence which has caused the resulting collision. As a consequence if traced teh driver may become liable for failing to stop at or failing to report an accident.

I had something like this in the back of my mind, having prior experience of an accident situation where I was blamed for causing an accident between two other vehicles. I stopped and asisted at the scene, I was prosecuted for it despite strongly feeling that the actions of the other motorists were equally contributory [there is no contributory negligence in criminal law, apparently] and moved on with my life but it was perhaps the start of a rising interest in legal matters (I was told in school I should have been a lawyer) that I now find fascinating as a result of the resource of this forum. The primary motivation for documenting this RTA was for the driver of the seat as the (IMHO) blameless party to ensure that any proceedings dealt with him in a just way

QUOTE
I presume you ask because it is likely to be a friend or associate from the rugby club and your concerned that if identified they may be prosecuted?

If it was a friend or associate, I would probably be aware of exactly who it was, as my group of freinds all leave at the same time. That said, I have a general general concern that people are dealt with fairly by the law (having crossed it myself a few times); i guess i wouldnt be here otherwise. It is, additionally the third accident I know of at that particular spot - it's starting to look like a good site for a gatso! ohmy.gif

QUOTE
Ignoring the possible speed element of the Vectra, if you were the driver of the Seat in similar circumstances what would you think of someone who had contributed to a collision occuring and then just driven off?

If I was sure that the driver of that car knew about the accident then I would have liked their help in setting out the record of events, but at the same time I have a very poignant memory of a policeman advising me not to be a good samaritan and not to get involved with the business of others.. "just walk on by" was the advice that I chose to ignore - i can accept that others would heed it and if that driver was unaware of the accident or had a strong belief that they were not involved in it (definition of "involved" is needed) then i'd find their actions understandable.
Hotel Oscar 87
QUOTE (cjard @ Wed, 6 Aug 2008 - 16:50) *
The primary motivation for documenting this RTA was for the driver of the seat as the (IMHO) blameless party to ensure that any proceedings dealt with him in a just way.


Please don't think I'm being negative for the sake of it but I refer you back to my eariler comment about being partisan and the fact that these forums are inherently insecure. By being posed questions and allowing your account to accommodate developments in the "public" version of what happened your account is necessarily going to differ from the account you could have given at the time. You might argue that by allowing the account to "mature" over time that it becomes fuller but experience in these matters strongly indicates otherwise. There are plenty of psychological studies bearing out just this point.

[constructive criticism]If you were truly interested in recording what happened then you should confine your account to relevant facts and eliminate all interpretation, presumption and opinion. Just as a simple example you have written "When I arrived the two individuals involved had exited their cars and were walking around in the road." This statement may be true but how did you know? It isn't clear from the account. Did you actually see them emerge from the cars? Did either or both of them make a verbal comment to you that they were the driver of x or y? Simply because you saw two individuals moving around unsteadily in the road a short distance from where two vehicles had collided only moments before does not automatically allow you to conclude they were drivers or even occupants of the vehicles. I'd concede that in all likelihood they were connected but you need to qualify your assertion in order to validate it.[/constructive criticism]

The officer may well have been exceeding the limit and, if he was, will be expected to account for his so doing. It would be both unwise and somewhat presumptious to assume that you will be necessarily included in that explanation - there are many perfectly good operational reasons why this would not be publicised.

IMO you are doing the very thing the old police officer advised against again and recommend that for the sake of retaining what untainted account you can still give that you desist. None of us know how valuable or otherwise your statement might be and with the greatest of respect you are not in a position to judge - and nor am I!


Dr Science
cjard,

I recommend the following:-

1) Print out, sign and date a copy of all the posts that you have made above, plus the photos (not that they show much). These are your raw notes so to speak, kind of like a policeman's notebook. File them safely.

2) If you feel a need to keep worrying at this matter, go through the notes and summarise all the factual stuff into one comprehensive document. Do not do this publicly. Be prepared to chuck it away and revert to your raw notes if (in a few weeks time, after you too have calmed down - you clearly have been affected by this, understandably) that seems the right thing to do.

3) If you are asked to make a statement, write it from the factual content of your raw notes - or if the summary you made at stage 2 still seems the best summary that you have, simply give a copy of that as your statement.

4) If it goes to court, then you might be allowed to have your "contemporaneous notes" as an aide-memoire while on the stand - just like a policemen is allowed his note book. However, the normal rules of evidence apply - if its fact you can give it as evidence. If its opinion generally you keep it to yourself as that is the court's job - though you are allowed to give an opinion that an ordinary person could come to, like "The man in the blue suit seemed to have been the driver of the red car, because he was leaning against it near to the drivers door while the man in the white shirt was leaning on the other car" (or whatever).

The question of speeding/not speeding is likely to be determined by crash investigators who will measure skid mark length and get an estimate based on the state of the tyres and the road at the time. They will also look at the amount of damage and see that it stacks up with the speed calculated from the marks. Witness estimates of speed are notoriously unreliable and can be broken down more-or-less as "about normal for that road" "unusually slow" "unusually fast" and "Woooosh!". In tests, we the public have proved ourselves very bad at putting numbers to speeds.

Crash investigators and/or vehicle examiners will look at the states of tyres, did someone not have lights on, was the ABS working, was the steering/suspension working etc. etc.

Do not be overly surprised if you don't hear anything more from either side - it sounds like no-one was seriously injured (of course we don't know what the x-rays might have shown) and if both drivers pretty much agree with the conclusions of the investigators then you may not be called on for a statement.

If the police do not have information that you have that would allow them to trace the third driver, you should give it to them. If not, you are under no obligation to do that investigative work for them. You should perhaps write to the police a short note confirming that you heard the incident, were first on-scene, have made some notes while your memory was still fresh and you are prepared to assist and/or make a statement. You might sign off by recommending that they contact the rugby club as you know some of their members were leaving at about that time and might also have witnessed the incident. Give your contact details and the rugby club if you know it.

The reason the police did not allow the young man to sit in the car was probably because if he sits in the car, and it then seems that he might have a back/neck injury, then the fire service will cut the roof off of the car in order to lift him out on a back-board. That destroys an expensive police car and it delays him getting to hospital by the extra minutes taken to chop the car up. A bus shelter probably has a lot more space, so the medics would be able to get him onto a board without having to cut the bus shelter down.

You have done your bit, only time will tell if you are called on to do more.

Dr.S
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