Antiguans love a little excitement, and we take it however we can get it.
I was minding my own business the other day when I was startled by a screech of tyres. I waited for the expected impact and the resulting momentary confusion that would ensue as the drivers exited their vehicles and proceeded to say who was at fault.
In short order I would expect to see the gawkers on foot and the other drivers who would pass slowly, the better to see the damage that could easily have been theirs. Then there are the ones who park their cars a short distance away because they’re the ones who’ll be giving the accident report.
The area where I work used to be notorious for vehicular accidents, with one happening, it seemed, at least one per month. It meant that the persons involved would always come in hoping to use the phone in order to make a report to the police. But that was before everybody had a cell phone on hand.
Like those requests, the frequency of accidents has decreased quite a bit, even though there are even more cars on the road now, but the traffic lights have succeeded in regulating the flow a bit better.
It’s funny, but whenever the lights aren’t working, and even though a lot of us drove before traffic lights were even installed on the island, it’s like we forget how to drive cautiously, or who has the right-of-way, or that we actually have to stop when we come to an intersection.
The last major accident that occurred a few yards from my workplace involved a fire truck and an SUV that was driven by a fellow who worked up the road from me. The fire tender was on its way to fight a house fire so it was full of water. On attempting to make a corner at a relatively fast speed it was confronted by the SUV which it attempted to avoid hitting.
It failed, but the attempt caused the tender to end up in a ditch. The person behind the wheel of the SUV was driving through the intersection at a time when the traffic lights were not working. He had the right-of-way, but I think emergency sirens supersede that traffic rule. Maybe he didn’t hear them? Whatever the case, he ended up getting sideswiped.
I became one of the gawkers when I heard who was driving the SUV. Thankfully, he was sitting on the side of the road in what I think was shock – because he very narrowly missed having his picture passed around on Facebook with the caption “Rest in Peace”.
Of course the expert drivers and their opinions were out in full force. There were assumptions and suppositions. What ifs and what-I-would-have-done-if-it-was-me pronouncements. Along with the ever popular, “But he can’t drive, man”.
I heard that the fire tender is still out of commission. Probably still trying to recover.
But back to the incident that started this chat. The anticipated impact never actually came because the car narrowly missed the pedestrian who was crossing the road. As he got to the other side safely, the walker looked back in time to utter a few choice (and I mean “choice”), words to the driver who had stopped just in time.
But I suppose narrowly escaping death or injury will do that to a person. It seems more appropriate than thanking our lucky stars instead.