|Tracey Crouch MP with local Conservative Councillors and residents|
celebrate saving the 155 bus service
I was wrong.
Last Wednesday I was happily driving along Pilgrims Way en route to the office. Ahead of me was a school minibus packed with children. In the distance a completely empty 155 heading towards us on the narrowest part of the road. When the 155 and the minibus drew level we ground to a halt. The driver of the 155 pulled over, as far over as he could go. The minibus probably had a good 18 inches of room, but the driver looked reluctant to pull further to the left in case she scratched the bus or grounded it on the soft verge. As a consequence we had stalemate.
I stopped a good ten feet behind the minibus and settled down to see what developed. Another car pulled up behind me. In fairness, the bus couldn't back up as it was on a bend and he had nowhere to go. I was quite relaxed watching events develop - then I became part of the drama. Suddenly I was aware of the minibus's white reversing lights and the look of horror on the faces of the children as they hurtled backwards towards me. Whether the driver hadn't seen me or had misjudged the distance I know not, but the next sound was the inevitable crunch as her tailgate embedded itself into the bumper of my beloved Jaguar.
There was nothing I could do; it happened in seconds; and even if I had time to react there was nowhere for me to go. Another car was directly behind me and the lane was far too narrow to move out of the way.
She pulled forward again and I was relieved that my bumper was not impaled on her tailgate. The 155 bus driver was open mouthed as he had seen it happen, and the driver of the car behind was agog, no doubt thankful that I hadn't reversed out of the way and directly into her! I watched nervously, waiting to see steam or hear the hissing noise to indicate a damaged radiator, but fortunately no sound came nor steam came.
I then heard the bus driver shout to her, "you know you've hit that bloke's Jag". She appeared at the back window of the minibus, surveying her carnage; the kids around her were all pointing to the shattered remains of my bumper. She looked me in the eye, shrugged and returned to the drivers seat. Suddenly she found the extra foot of room, squeezed passed the 155 and headed happily off into the distance, with no intention of stopping.
The bus driver pulled level and wound down the window, "she hasn't bloody stopped", he said, stating the obvious! "I told her she'd hit you and she just shrugged". The driver of the car behind also gave her details - I had two first hand eye witnesses.
As soon as I reached the office I called the school, this was now thirty minutes after the crash but neither the school secretary nor head teacher knew anything about the incident, though in fairness as soon as I told them they dealt with me courteously and efficiently. The schools insurers, Aviva, soon made contact and have acted (so far) with absolute integrity.
Today I received the quote from the garage to put right the damage:
I suspect they will write it off. A 12 year old 3ltr Jaguar has little value. This saddens me as it was the first car I have ever enjoyed driving. But what saddens me more is somewhere in Kent there is a school teacher, who knew she had crashed into another car, who was told by a witness that she had done so, and had even seen the damage with her own eyes - but drove off regardless. Perhaps she thought it didn't matter, maybe she didn't care.
I just hope she doesn't think of herself as a role model for those young children in her charge.