Change of plans

Sometimes you feel like you're always doing the same kind of things, similar experiences that you are comfortable with.  So last Saturday I got out of my comfort zone, quite literally, when we had to hit our brakes hard due to the nervous traffic on the ring road of Brussels and the unexpected traffic jam. Argh I hate to be on the road when Anderlecht plays at home. 

We stopped just behind the car in front thanks to good Volvo technology .  TONK...the car behind us clearly didn't stop just behind us.

The impact really didn't feel big so I was looking for some insurance papers to fill in when Jan had gone and check the damage and talk to the other driver. I assumed they'd agree on trying to move across the 4 lanes of the motorway to the safer emergency lane where we were not blocking traffic.

"Phone the emergency services", said Jan when he popped his head back in
"Come on, we're on the moterway and the other car can't drive anymore"
So I quickly glanced backwards, noticed everybody out of the car walking around and checking damage so I phoned the 101 police number.

"I need the exact location of the incident. There's km indicators each 100 m, tell me where you are"
"Euh, I can't see any of those from where we are"
"Well I need the exact number of the one closest by"
"Sir, I'm on the left lane of the busy motor way with traffic all around and I can't see any of those indicators from here. I'm seriously not going to walk around in the dark to look for the next km number."

Argh after that small surreal discussion, I had explained the situation and we were instructed to get out of the vehicles and wait in the middle of the motor way until police assistance would arrive.   We enjoyed the signals of some frustrated drivers in our caused traffic jam who showed their compassion with some yelling or hand signals for some 15 minutes in the freezing cold until the police showed up and marked the road with a nice lightshow.  They quickly gathered everybody's papers and got back into their car for a long time while we were still trampling in the cold watching the passing traffic.  Freeeeeeezing cold it was. Brrrrrr.  The discussion between the 2 towing companies that had showed up after a while was entertaining for a bit but not for long.

Since our car was still driving , we fortunately could leave as soon as they had done all the paperwork and alcoholtests etc. I learned that they were obliged to fill in the papers on Dutch documents because we were on Flemish territory even though the other driver was Frenchspeaking. I also learned that the FAST towing team (specialised & responsible for strict SLA's for clearing the Antwerp & Brussels ring road in case of incidents) had to tow the car to neutral terrain where the insurance company's towing car could take over. Ha, always nice to learn some bureaucracy on a Saturday evening.

Anyway, we left as soon as we could and returned home to warm up.  That took quite a while. Sorry cousin that we didn't make it to your drink. Happy B-day anyway.


Lilacspecs said…
Yikes, glad everyone was okay. Car accidents never seem to feel as bad as they are. Or maybe the other people just had a poorly made car.
Snooker said…
Well thankfully everyone is OK. You also got a nice reminder of how lucky you are. Interesting about the tow truck rules, though.
zusjesenzo said…
Je hebt je portie avontuur nu wel gehad ;-). Gelukkig dat jullie oké zijn!
Kat Mortensen said…
Sounds like a nasty situation. I'm just glad it wasn't really serious and no one was hurt.
You wrote about it really well.

Betsy said…
Am so glad you're OK and that it all turned out OK in the end.

But why is it that they ask the km number? You would think that each phone would have it's own id number and that they'd automatically be able to see which one you're calling from! People only use those phones during emergencies and the last thing they need at that moment is to go searching around for a km marker! Very strange...
Goofball said…
@lilacspecs: I think our towing hook took most of the shock....and it also perforated the heating system of the other car. It was a Mercedes so I would assume it shouldn't be really poorly made. On the other hand, engine compartiments are made as a crumple zone so it's not a total surprise to see that they really got crumpled.

@snooker: I knew there's specially assigned "FAST" teams for those 2 crucial ring roads with SLA's and cars that are always standby near most exits who coorporate with the police as well. So it was rather silly that another (much more simple) towing car showed up as well. I guess that driver had been making phone calls to his insurance company. Yeah, the police said that the FAST team would do the first towing.

@zusjeszo: mja, mijn eerste keer dat ik naar hulpdiensten belde. 't ging allemaal veel relaxer dan ik in feite gedacht had

@Kat: thanks. I try to find some mocking humour in such situations.

@Betsy: we were on the left lane and there's no emergency phones there. Both the emergency phones and the km indications are on the emergency lane...and I'd have to cross 4 lanes of motorway traffic to get there. So I was phoning with my cell phone. I had told them I was on the left lane, but somehow that had not sunck in with the operator so he kept pressing me to go and look for that km indicator. I was getting rather frustrated at that moment. Sitting in an immobile car on the left lane is suicidal enough, not to go for an additional walk!
Brian Miller said…
ugh...sorry this happened to you...i am glad though that every one was ok and could wake up tomorrow knowing how blessed they really are...sure you can make it up to your cousins...

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