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Beware of helpful pedestrians

I could see it happening right in front of me but was powerless to do anything. The extra-long rental van was negotiating a right turn whilst being helpfully waived on by a delivery driver’s mate.

From my vantage point 50m away and three cars back in the traffic queue all I could do was watch as the driver – concentrating on not driving his left wing into the double-parked lorry opposite – took too tight a turn and crunched the rear of their van into a parked car. But, in this early morning metal mash-up who was to blame?

The van was leaving a fairly narrow entrance and joining a jam-packed residential street so was the car parked too close to the entrance? They were on single red lines, but given the time, the car was entitled to park there.  Inconsiderate parking but hardly warrants them needing a new bumper and bonnet.

Was it then the fault of the van driver? Well, yes, probably. After all they did drive into a parked car. It was a difficult manoeuvre, but with a bit of planning and some careful positioning it was doable.

Perhaps it was the truck driver’s fault? The delivery lorry was double-parked directly opposite the entrance and his extended tail lift was proving the major sticking point in this negotiation. Of course they weren’t to know someone would be using the anonymous looking exit opposite when they parked, and parking anywhere else on the street was likely to be far more inconvenient for everyone. They had chosen about as an appropriate place as you could find.

99.9% of the time all ends well, but when the flailing hands of a bystander come to the rescue all sense of space and responsibility fly out of the window

If not the van driver’s fault then, who is to blame in this scenario? It’s quite simple really, it was the helpful layman. The young driver’s mate, standing at the end of the tail lift, merrily waiving the van driver onwards into a collision they weren’t thinking about – directing the stressed out driver away from the edges of the lorry and unwittingly straight into the front of the parked car.

The point to this cautionary tale then is that van drivers need to be weary of helpful pedestrians. Usually, 99.9% of the time all ends well, but when panic sets in and the flailing hands of a bystander come to the rescue all sense of space and responsibility fly out of the window. So, to all van driver – and particularly novices in hire vehicles – beware of helpful pedestrians. Their thoughtfulness might end up costing you.

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