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Tuesday, August 22, 2006



Which is, as if most people don’t know, the acronym for Road Traffic Accident. Over the past year, I’ve found myself at the scene of three non fatal RTA’s, just helping out with blocked streets while the Police and PCSO’s get on with the important work of form filling. The first I’ve probably already mentioned, where I was the target of mockery where one of the attending Coppers said “Aren’t you going to nick him then?” Indicating one of the crashed vehicles.
Not to be outdone, I responded “Nah, you lot can do him for obstruction.” And went to the end of the street to persuade a woman driver that there was another way to her destination apart from trying to push past the scene of a collision in a too - narrow English street.

Now in the words of Voltaire, “common sense is not so common.” This can be demonstrated at the scene of any collision. Note that I don’t call them ‘accidents’. In my book there ain’t no such animal as an ‘Accident’ between two vehicles. This implies it was nobody’s fault which is patently rarely the case. What it boils down to is that someone wasn’t watching what they were doing. For example; the clumsy guy who knocks over your table, spilling your food and drink onto the floor, then bleats that it was an ‘Accident’ firstly gets short shrift, and secondly my bar / restaurant bill – including any cleaning due to his clumsiness. Refusal is not an option.

Around the scene of a collision it gets very tricky very quickly and with good reason. Drivers will try and jump the queue, sound their horns aggressively, even try to push past close to where a casualty is lying. Nothing seems to matter apart from their speed of their journey. Others will pull up, and with monkey like curiosity, peer at the damage whilst all around them other drivers blood pressure rockets. It just doesn’t seem to register that they are in everybody’s way. Impatience leads to a lack of attention and observation which leads to – yup, you got it – more accidents. ‘Common sense’? Risibility personified.

Here’s where our lot often find ourselves stepping ‘outside our remit’ of parking enforcement, and from whence many bollockings flow. Fortunately we have a defence. Now if you recall from my other posts, our remit is ‘To keep the Streets clear’. Yes I know we don’t have any more ‘powers’ to direct traffic than an ordinary member of the public, but where there’s a breach to be stepped into, you’ll often find a Parking Enforcer around, seeing as (I have so often posted) we’re often the only Uniformed patrol presence within a two mile radius.

Second incident was on a busy one way system in the town centre. Two drivers had been involved in a ‘shunt’ type collision on a ‘no stopping’ restriction, where one vehicle had rear ended the other. Both drivers are busy shouting the odds at one another and traffic is backing up. I roll up, having logged the incident with CCTV and stand on the other side of the road to see if the two aggrieved parties are going to do the sensible thing. Both vehicles appear driveable, and it should be a case of exchange details and get going, but no, both are suffering from complete frontal lobe shutdown and have reverted to pre hominid status as demonstrated by screaming abuse at each other.
“You hit me!”
“It was your fault, you braked too sharply.”
“Fuck off!”
“No, you fuck off!”
“Excuse me.” I interject, crossing the road to the scene of the hold up.
“Shit, now look what you’ve done!” One registers my Uniforms presence.
“Me? You smashed into me!”
“Gentlemen.” I raised my voice. “Would you mind moving your vehicles please? Just over there and I’ll let you exchange details in peace.”
“He hit my car!”
“Just clear the road and you’ll have no trouble with me.” Say I in my best schoolteacher tones.
“It was his fault!”
“Move over there please sir, and you can discuss it at length.” I again indicate the open driveway of a ‘to let’ industrial unit fifty metres away. It’s a private road and nothing to do with me. They can stay there all day and rant if they want.
“You won’t book us?”
“No sir.”

There are a couple of muttered comments about my parentage, but the uniform works its magic and both of them move smartly enough. I pick up a couple of the larger pieces of debris out of the road and put them aside for collection / disposal / whatever. “CCTV, Ringway clear.” I call over the radio.
“Roger that 515, cheers mate.” It’s one of our better CCTV operators today. Drama over. My part in it took less than two minutes. Traffic resumes its flow and I’m off to my next port of call.
Third example was where I just turned up and the warring parties ran like rabbits. Road cleared, job done. No more need be said. One last thing; at no time did I ‘order’ anyone to move (I can ask, suggest, threaten a ticket, but not give people ‘orders’), I just turned up and they went.

Like I keep saying, it isn’t all about giving out parking tickets to ‘innocent’ motorists.


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Location: British Columbia, Canada

Exasperated expatriate expostulations all the way from British Columbia, Canada. As if anyone really cared. Oh, I also watch Icelandic Volcanoes and seismic activity. Don't ask me why.

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