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Today I had a car accident. 1 September 2010. 9 years of having a license and nothing until today. Spring day, and for intents and purpose it should have been just that, a glorious spring day.

There was nothing hazardous on the road. The sky was clear, my brakes were fine, the road had no road-works, I wasn’t on my phone. Nothing was out of the ordinary, except, perhaps, my thoughts. Traffic had been bad this morning, and the route I usually take (onto the highway at the Rivonia onramp – cut down past Woodmead onto the M1 and then slow moving traffic towards Braamfontein) was backed up for no apparent reason. My usual 10 minutes had turned into 25 and I was antsy. Nevertheless, I made it onto the highway and was beetling along at about 80km p/h, keeping a safe travelling distance, paying attention to the road and traffic, but at the same time not. Does that make any sense? I hope so.

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You see, I checked my blind spot to the left where the roads converge on one another at the Buccleuch interchange and when I looked around again the Merc in front of me was practically at a standstill – and I of course, was not. Suffice to say I ploughed straight into the back of him – causing crazy damage to my car – not so much to his.

It’s amazing how family, friends, the AA, the police, the insurance company, and even the other driver rallied round me to help me sort everything out. I have never been told what to do in an accident – although I did have the presence of mind to pull onto the shoulder of the highway so as not to further obstruct traffic, but I thought I would relay some of the other things I learnt.

1. Take down all of each others details: phone numbers, addresses, ID numbers, make and model and colour of cars, registration plates. 2. If the other driver leaves the scene you cannot make a statement to the metro police – you need to go to the nearest police station (you have 24 hours in which to do this to get a case number) 3. the AA is for roadside assistance, not accident assistance – you might incur added costs so preferably talk to your insurers first so that they might send you a tow truck or let them liaise with the AA on where to take you to. And be prepared, this all takes time.

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It’s quite scary to think that this happened in an instant, a split-second. I never saw it coming and I wasn’t even aware of how quickly a wide gap can become non-existent.  I was lucky this time, just a few bruises and bumps (my car not so much!) but all this can change. I have always known, but now I see first-hand why it is SO important to be 100% focused when driving, to get enough sleep and to not worry about anything but the driving – I now plan to keep those worries for when I am at home, or get to the office, for when I get out of the traffic jam – I should hopefully be a lot safer for it.