It's good to be alive.
That is not something I thought I would be saying when I awoke this morning. Yet, that is the predominant feeling I have today.
Let me explain.
The Airport Run
Last night I went to bed around 10pm and slept until 12.30am this morning. At 2.30am I packed my girlfriend's bags in the boot of my car and set off for Edinburgh airport.
It was a terrible night to drive as the fog restricted my view considerably. Therefore, I had to drive a slower on the motorway.
I stayed with my girlfriend at Edinburgh airport for 2 hours. She set off for Colombia and I headed back home.
With little traffic at that time of the night, it only takes me about 35 minutes to get home. Normally, the journey would take around an hour due to traffic.
At 5.40am I noticed the car rumbling a little bit, but my initial assumption was that the road was just uneven and that my tyres were ok. I looked at my phone at this point as it was on my dashboard with Google Maps on. I was 2.5 miles from the junction which takes me off the motorway; therefore I was not too far from home.
I was travelling at around 50 to 60 miles per hour and my steering was gone. I was turning the wheel and the car would not respond. I then swung from the left lane and did a 180 degree turn into the right lane and smashed against the barrier. I smacked my head against my car when this happened, but I quickly swung around 180 degrees again and then I managed to drive to the left hand side of the road onto the hard shoulder.
I will happily admit that I feared for my life. Driving at such a high speed into a barrier is frightening. I would not say I was scared as it all happened so fast that I did not have enough time to take everything in; however there was a second or two when I thought “This is it!”.
I did not realise it at the time, but I was obviously shaken by it all.
The first thing I did was phone my girlfriend and told her that she should not worry but I had just been in a car crash. In hindsight, this was a stupid thing to do. I should not have concerned her with this as she would have been obviously been worried about me. And it's not like she could have done anything as she was at the airport ready to board her flight. I clearly wasn't thinking straight at the time.
I got out my car and looked at the damage. In Scotland it is dark in the dead of the night in Winter. Much darker than it is in the Summer months. This is highlighted in the first photo I took as I had not activated the flash. When no cars were passing, I could not see anything. I could barely make out the trees that were next to me.
This picture makes it look like the rain was pouring heavily, but it wasn't that bad. It was, however, very very cold. It was close to freezing.
For the past week or two I have been suffering from the flu. I have been constantly dehydrated and have had sore eyes and a sore throat. Initially, I was ok, but my core temperature started to drop rapidly. Partly due to me being sick, partly due to how cold it was, and partly due to how unprepared I was for those cold temperatures.
At the front of the car I could see that the front left of the car was badly damaged. The front bumper was hanging completely off the car.
The back left of the car was badly damaged too as that end also hit the barrier. The scrapes along the car highlight the fact I was still going backwards when this happened.
As you can see, my tyre was nowhere to be found. It had completely come off the wheel.
I am unsure as to what happened exactly. I imagine the tyre blew out because I went over a pot hole, but I do not know for sure.
The airbag hadn't gone off when I hit the barrier; which I assume is due to me hitting the barrier side-on rather than head-on. I banged my head when the collision happened so when I initially got out the car I was putting my hands all over my face and neck etc to see if there was any blood. Thankfully, there was not.
After phoning my girlfriend, I called my parents to let them know what happened and let them know that I was ok. I also called my friend Michael as he is great with cars. My hope was that he would be able to tow me home. Sadly, his phone was on silent since it was 6:00am in the morning.
I then started looking on the website of the car insurance company. For the life of me, I could not find a number to call about it. Their website was not designed for mobile phones so I had to zoom in on each page to try and browse their website. Not a good situation when your hands are starting to shake due to the cold weather. I eventually found a number and I forwarded it to my mum to call on my behalf.
Next, I called the police on 999 at 6:15am.
* Note: The times I am referencing have been taken from the call history on my phone.
The police advised me to stay out of the car and stand away from the motorway. It was around this time that I put my hazard lights on (something I should have done immediately). I remember noticing the button next to the hazard light had popped out; though that is the only real damage I noticed in the inside of the car.
I was told by the police that they were changing shifts but they would be there as soon as possible.
Around 7:00am, my mother called me and advised that a recovery company would call me soon. The recovery company called me at 7:13am and told me that they would take around an hour to arrive. I asked the guy if he could come sooner as it was freezing and my hands were shaking violently and he told me to keep moving to stay warm.
A few minutes later, I saw the police pulling up on the hard shoulder around half a kilometre down the road from me. They were inspecting the tyre that had come off my car. They drove further down to me a minute later.
When I advised them the recovery pick up vehicle would not be there for around an hour, he asked me to call them back. I found their number in my call list and the policeman called them on my behalf. He told them that 60 minutes is way too long for me and my vehicle to be sitting on the hard shoulder and they would arrange recovery for me instead. The police then asked me to sit in their car as it was too cold outside.
I cannot fault the police about the way they handled everything. They were professional and polite throughout. Their recommendation to arrange recovery themselves proved to be right as they started a stopwatch and the recovery vehicle arrived 18 minutes later.
While I was sitting in their car, the police asked me some questions relating to the crash. This was around 7:30am in the morning and the collision occurred at 5:40am. I had been outside in the cold shivering alone in the dark for 1 hour and 40 minutes. You would think that this would have given me time to think about everything, but I had not really done that. Looking back, I was obviously still in shock as I was talking very quickly. I recall the policeman who called me beforehand to get a better idea of my position asking me to slow down as I was talking so quickly.
The funny thing is that it was not until I was sitting in the police car around 7:30am that I started to realise I may have a concussion. One of the policemen asked me whether I was in the left lane or the right lane. Looking back at the incident, I know I was in the left lane as there was no one else on the road. However, when he asked me, I genuinely could not remember. I said I was on the the left…then hesitated and said the right…and then said I think the left but I was not sure.
The police reversed up the hard shoulder and reviewed the damage. You could see my car had skidded for around 50 metres or so and scraped along the barrier. They noted the road would have to go down to one lane on both sides for them to repair it and that it will cost the insurance company thousands.
I had asked the police a few times whether it was worth grabbing the tyre. I asked the recovery man who arrived the same question; however they all said it was not necessary to retrieve the tyre. I had assumed it would have been necessary for insurance purposes. I was also curious as to what was wrong with the tyre as it may have shed some light on what caused my car to crash in the first place.
Ten minutes after the recovery vehicle arrived, my damaged car was on the back of the pick up truck and I was heading home.
Instead of going home myself, the police kindly dropped me off at my parents house. My dad kept asking me to sit down, but my head was still racing because of it all.
It become clear at this point I had a minor concussion as there was a couple of times when I started talking and then completely forgot what I was talking about. I had a major headache too. Those of you who have had a concussion before will understand how confusing everything is when you have hit your head.
An hour later my dad dropped me off at my house. My head was killing me and my neck was incredibly sore, but I managed to sleep three hours. I was surprised I was able to sleep as my brain was still running a mile a minute.
Eight Lives Left
When I told some friends via WhatsApp what had happened, my friend Kenny remarked that I had lost one of my nine lives. It was funny, but profound.
The whole experience has been a little bizarre. Until this day, I had never been involved in any accident. Not even a minor bump or a slammed door onto mine in a supermarket car park.
What is a little scary about it all is that I had no control over it. I had a brief warning that something was wrong with the tyre; however it was not so obvious that I had to stop. I honestly believed the road was just bumpy. The incident happened so quickly that I never really had time to think about what was happening. If I had, the first thing I would have done is pulled over and stopped the car.
It is scary to think that I had no control over anything. I did not speed. I did not do a silly manoeuvre on the road. I was driving at a reasonable speed and then I was instantly thrown into a 360 spin into the barrier. It is a little worrying that when you are on an empty road something like that can happen and your life could be taken away from you.
I do feel that I am very lucky; particularly when you consider that my tyre blew out whilst driving around 50 to 60 miles per hour on the motorway and all I have is a small bruise on my head. Had that happened in the afternoon instead of the dead of night, I could have caused a crash with four or five other vehicles. And perhaps the car behind me would have crashed right into the back of me.
Fortunately, the collision occurred when there was no other cars on the road. It would be another 30 seconds or so after stopping at the side of the road that another car would even pass.
I am sitting here back at home with a sore neck, a bruised head, and a shocked system. As I write this, I know I am still not 100% . When proofreading this article I noticed a huge amount of missing words in my initial draft and it is extremely difficult to calm my thoughts and write in the way I normally would.
My friend John Paul, who is a policeman, spoke to me on the phone earlier today and advised me to go to the hospital to get checked out. I did not see the point in doing that at the time as I had not been to bed yet and knew I needed sleep; but if I am still having concussion symptoms tomorrow, it may be worth getting checked out.
Ultimately, in the grand scale of things, I am fine. And hopefully after a few days I will be back to normal.
Without doubt, I have had my first real brush with death and I somehow survived. For that, I am grateful. :)
Thanks for reading.