They Need To Park That Attitude Better

, , , , | Friendly | April 27, 2018

I work in haulage as a day driver, by which I mean that I always return to my home depot every evening and never stop out in the cab. This type of driving means I generally do a large amount of pallet collections for my company, and this in turn means I often end up on tight urban streets that aren’t always the easiest to fit my thirty-foot wagon down.

One of England’s little-enforced — or indeed, even known — laws is that it’s illegal to park within ten metres of a junction unless its in a dedicated parking space; however, due to how rarely this law is actually enforced, almost everyone ignores it and parks anywhere up to three inches from junctions all the time. This causes some issues every now and again, but it does lead to some interesting stories like this one.

I was collecting from a medium-sized company that’s located on a small side street, set around fifty metres back from the main road, on a residential street. Almost all of this street is a no-parking zone between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm; however, all the residents ignore this and park everywhere. On this particular day, I entered the street and noticed a full-size articulated lorry (semi-trailer) at the other end of the street with a police car behind it. Once I entered my collection point and was informed my pallets wouldn’t be ready for loading for another twenty minutes, I proceeded to walk up to the scene and see what was happening.

Once I walked up, I could see that the rear of the trailer was in contact with a parked car that was barely one metre back from the junction. It had cracked the passenger side front window and popped the wing mirror off.  

I had a brief chat with the driver of the wagon. He told me he had tried to make the turn with a passerby helping him, and then the passerby had just shouted, “You’ve hit it!” They then pointed to the car and walked away.

If you volunteer to help a wagon enter or exit a tight space, be prepared to do it properly. You half-a**ing the job doesn’t help us and leads to situations like this.

Unable to move forwards or backwards without totalling the car, the driver had rung the police, who’d come out to try and move traffic — the cab of the lorry was blocking a major one-way side road, and there were twenty-plus cars queued up waiting to get past –and also locate the owner of the car to see if they could move it.

After knocking on doors up and down the local streets, the police eventually had to run the plates on the car to find the owner who lived barely thirty metres away, and had just ignored the officers knocking earlier. A more forceful knock and a shouted alert that it was the police brought a woman in her 50s to the door. The officer asked her if it was her car and she confirmed. He then asked her if she had the key to hand so that it could be moved. She informed the officer that her husband had the keys and was in Bradford, around an hour away by car.

I was at this point expecting the officer to bite the bullet and wait it out; however, to my surprise he instead got on his radio to HQ and asked them whether an hour wait was acceptable. I can only assume HQ said no, because he then turned to the driver of the lorry and told him to “do what you need to” to get out.

The driver proceeded to get into his cab and set off.

One thing you need to know about wagons: the rear end is the strongest part structurally. The front has a lot of breakaway components to offer anything it hits up front something resembling a surviving chance, but the rear of a trailer is nothing but thick steel support struts. The outcome of this massive slab of steel going into the car was never in doubt.

The damage to the car was catastrophic. The passenger side door was caved in, the front window pillar buckled and the windscreen shattered, the front quarter panel was torn clean off, taking the front bumper with it, the bonnet was bent inwards, and the front axle was cracked and the wheel fell off.

Unsurprisingly, the woman d*** near had a heart attack at this point and started screaming at the officer, who calmly explained that the car was illegally parked — it was both well within ten metres of a junction and also on a section of the street designated as a no-parking zone — and causing an obstruction, and that clearing the obstruction had been deemed to be more important.

The driver returned at this point and handed the officer his details for insurance. He was told he was clear to leave in return. The officer then handed the (still screaming) woman the driver’s details, along with his own, and told her to get in touch with her insurance and breakdown service to arrange recovery of the car and to contact his HQ if she had any questions about how the situation had been handled.

At this point, the workers at my collection point shouted up the road to me that my pallets were ready, so I left and heard no more of what was said. When I drove past ten minutes later, the police had left, and the woman was stood by the car shouting into her phone, presumably to arrange recovery.

When I got back to base that day I asked my transport manager about it. She said that the woman’s insurance would turn her down flat on any sort of payout because the car was parked illegally, and that because the police attended the scene and green-lit the wagon driver to cause the damage, she would be unable to chase the transport company he worked for, either. Her only shot at recovering her losses would be to try to sue the police force, which I can’t imagine would have gone well for her, since the police would have extensive amounts of evidence to counter her claim with.

You’d think a car getting destroyed would motivate the neighbours to park a bit better, but nope. I went to that very same street two days later, and there was another car parked exactly where the previous car had been. Some people just never learn.

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