Friday 10 july 2009, Commercial Avenue, Bamenda. Two accidents caught on camera. The first one involved a motor-taxi and a classic Renault 4. The second a truck that crushed a normal private car. Studying the traffic, it’s still amazing so few accidents do happen. Or is it that so few are caught on camera?
Standing on the divider to cross the Commercial Avenue safely, I saw a Renault 4 coming up. A funny car, a classic car. As famous as the Citroën 2CV, Mini Cooper, Fiat 500 and the Volkswagen Beetle. Turning around, explaining this all to the rest of my crew, a loud ‘iiiieeeeee’ and a ‘boom!’ caught all our attention. A motor-taxi got under the Renault. After exchanging some words, the motor driver got his bike up and to the side. The driver of the Renault cleared, looked and saw there were no serious injuries and drove on. It showed that even a funny car can turn in a split second into a not so funny car.
Who caused the accident was not clear at the moment. At the t-crossing the Renault was going straight on and the motor-taxi somehow got under it. Like the bike came out of nowhere. Often the fearless drivers of these motorized bicycles drive them as it were suicycles - the motor-taxies are also called ‘Okada’, sounds like ‘Al Quida’. Somehow it all makes sense - Without caring of any traffic rules or any understanding of physical laws, trying to put their bikes in spots that aren’t even available. This image of the motor-taxi does not put the poor chap in any positive spotlight.
The second accident involved a normal private car, a Mitsubishi Lancer, that got crushed between the divider and a truck. Who was wrong here, was not yet clear, sure it wasn’t right. The two most likely events are that, or the truck driver did not pay attention to what was happening next to him while moving to the left, or that the driver of the private car did not take in account that a truck driver has four blind spots. Where he can’t see what’s happening in the traffic around the truck. Within a meter in front of the truck, straight behind and in an angle on each side of the truck. These are impossible spots to see for the truck driver. So stay out of these.
The trick is: if you can’t see the driver, the driver can’t see you. You should not be any close to a truck with a running engine. The private car got in full length crushed on the right flank. Windscreen broken and the left wheels got a serious punch. Imagine it was not a car but an ‘Okada’ under the truck. It easily would have been fatal. Hence that blind spots are also known through out the world as ‘death spots’.
Just an average day on Commercial Avenue proofed it again: traffic laws can be broken easily and you can get away with it. Trying to brake physical laws leads to hard confrontations.
The Vanguard, national independent newspaper Cameroon
Special Report: Auke VanderHoek