Latest Safety & HR News

21 May 2018

WOW.. I Got That One Wrong!!


Driving to meet a client I overtook a truck in the wet, believing the road ahead was clear...it wasn't.

I want to tell you a little story that shows that no-one is perfect and even when you think you are doing things right...sometimes you're not.

Driving to meet with a client yesterday, it was wet, overcast with low light and the road had a lot of turns and dead patches. I came up behind a truck and being wet, the wheels from the truck and trailer were throwing up a lot of mist.  Even when I dropped back my visibility was still being significantly affected. Waiting for a long straight, I checked, and believing the road ahead to be clear I commenced my overtaking manouvre.  As I came throught the mist from the truck I saw a small light coloured car was coming at me about 400m away.

Needless to say I was not particularly happy with myself for thinking the road ahead was clear and for putting me, the truck driver and the driver of the other car needlessly at risk.  So after my meeting I went and had a coffee and thought through the event.  I came to the conclusion that there were a number of factors that caused me to believe the road ahead was clear and here is what I came up with:

  • First and foremost it was my error of judgement for not considering that there might have been a vehicle there even though I didn't see one - so all fault sits with me.
  • Secondly, I accepted that I was perhaps was impatient to get past the truck.
  • I didn't see the car because the car was light coloured and in the overcast conditions it blended into the road and the backgound. The mist from the wheels of the truck were sufficient to further obscure the car further from my seeing it, and the driver did not have their lights on.

Obviously there are lessons to be drawn and mine are:

  • Even though I allowed plenty of time to get to the meeting, I should have allowed more to account for the weather. The effect of weather in hiding vehicles from sight cannot be underestimated.
  • Turn your lights on, it is all about being seen and giving every opportunity for you to be seen.
  • Patience in wet weather goes a long way to a safe journey.
  • Safety on the road is everyone's responsibility.

Could the truck driver have helped? Possibly. I have observed some truck drivers use their indicators to advise vehicles behind them if the road ahead is clear. No doubt you have seen this as well...left for not clear...right for clear.

I guess the biggest lesson is that it is so easy for everythig to go 'pear shaped' even when you think you are doing things right. Taking a second look could be the difference between being safe or not, kind of like measure twice cut once.  And never assume that the danger isnt there just because you can't see it.

AND finally...don't beat yourself up...everyone makes mistakes. Just make sure you apply the lessons.

 




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Tracey Petterson
PTP Services Ltd
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Buchanan Painting and Waterblasting
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