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Old 19th October 2012, 19:11   #1
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Default Close shave on the Western Express Highway

This happened today morning when I was going to Dadar in my Spark from Kandivali.
As usual there was some traffic but everyone was moving at a steady pace.

Then came the Andheri flyover, which is fairly long as everyone must be knowing. Traffic had eased and all the cars were doing 80-90 kmph.

There was a GJ reg Indigo, behind that was a white Swift, behind that was a blue Santro cool cab, behind that was my Spark and behind me was a grey Fortuner.

Now the Indigo guy decided to brake suddenly I don't know why, he just slammed the brakes. The Swift was very close to him to he rear ended him, the Santro was also close to the Swift so again he rear ended the Swift.
There was a distance of about 2 cars between my Spark and the Santro and also between my car and the Fortuner coming from behind.

Now I saw the Swift stopping abruptly and the Santro crashing into it. But it all happened in a fraction of a second.
I just slammed the brakes but I wasn't sure whether my car would stop or not, so I pulled the handbrake. My car made a screeching noise and skidded to the right and stopped a couple of feet from the santro.

The Fortuner saw my car skidding so he had already braked and slowly moved to the left lane.

The Indigo, because of which all this happened, suffered a damaged bumper and boot lid. The Swift had a damaged bonnet, front bumper, rear bumper, rear LHS corner and a broken tail light. Its coolant and engine oil was also leaking on the road.
The Santro cool cab had a really badly damaged front RHS corner and it moved to the left lane. Now this happened so fast that I don't remember exactly how it moved there. I guess he was trying to overtake the Swift from left.

I was still shocked because this is the first time that I saw such an accident from so close and had to react in no time.

Im posting a couple of pics which I took and also a ms paint rendering of the positions of the cars before and after the accident.

But I dont know whether I did the right or wrong thing pulling the hand brake at such a speed.
Attached Thumbnails
Close shave on the Western Express Highway-img01326201210191054.jpg  

Close shave on the Western Express Highway-img01327201210191055.jpg  

Close shave on the Western Express Highway-untitled.jpg  

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Old 19th October 2012, 19:44   #2
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Guess the swift and the santro were going too fast and too close. I would say your lucky not having to benefit from certain misfortunes coming from the rear end.

I wouldn't blame the Indigo at all.
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Old 19th October 2012, 19:57   #3
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

You and Fortuner did the right thing by maintaining safe distance and stopping before crashing. Others were not so alert and were not abiding by Maintain safe distance rule, and for which they paid the price.

On the speeds you mentioned slamming the brakes and on top of that applying hand brakes is alright. On higher speeds i am not so sure as this might disturb the braking balance distribution among all four wheels and there is a chance of car skidding in one direction.
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Old 19th October 2012, 20:06   #4
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Really prompt reaction there.

So, why did the Indigo slam the brake? I am sure you all had a 'nice' chat after the accident.
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Old 19th October 2012, 20:08   #5
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

That sounds like quite a close call. I witnessed a similar pile up yesterday. A tavera, an e-class,an alto and a call centre innova cab. I was between the alto and the innova 20 -30 seconds before the shunt. I changed lanes because the left lane was free.
I guess a major factor would be how close people drive to the car in front. You will obviously have no time to react.
Another thing everyone should take note off; if your following a tall car like a safari/innova/fortuner, slightly increase the room between your car. You simply 'cannot' see ahead.

Really quick reaction on your part to pull the handbrake.

I have a question, if you had only applied the brake would the distance to stop be less than if u pulled the handbrake? Asking because I would think the rear wheels would drag, not necessarily reducing the stopping distance?

Also, what should be the best response in this scenario in a car equipped with ABS.

I have heard something about pumping the brake pedal or some such thing, what is that?
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Old 19th October 2012, 20:15   #6
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Tailgating is extremely dangerous as this proved it. Good you were maintaining distance.

One question though, why did you pull the handbrake? This is very very dangerous and is completely the wrong thing to do. Pulling the handbrake means you locked your rear and caused the car to skid. Because of the skid you effectively were not in control and veered to the right.

The handbrake will not reduce your braking distance in an emergency situation.

The only time a hand brake can be used is when your primary brakes fail. Then you can try to use the hand brake.
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Old 19th October 2012, 21:50   #7
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Thank God you and your car got away without a scratch from this accident. and i must really appreciate your alertness. BTW did you find out why the Indigo driver decided to stop abruptly in the middle of the road?
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Old 19th October 2012, 22:28   #8
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

@StrangeWizard-
Lesson learnt
- Always keep safe braking distance especially while driving fast
- Always anticipate other drivers move - defensive driving technique
- Parking brakes are not supposed to be used in such situation, just slam the brakes the ABS will kick-in and take control and your job is to try to steer the vehicle safely. In non ABS vehicle try to do a controlled braking instead of slamming it.
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Old 19th October 2012, 22:48   #9
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

I had a similar experience on NH1 between Chandigarh and Delhi near Narela in Delhi. Traffic was flowing at 80kmph when it suddenly slowed down as we approached Delhi. When I braked, I had no clue if I will hit the car in front. When I heard a loud bang, I wasn't even sure which part of the car was hit. It was the Eeco driven by kids behind me that hit me and the car in front of me just safely disappeared ahead within moments.

In fact, what slowed my reaction time was that I was looking in the RVM and trying to give way as this Eeco was tailgating me. Unfortunately, that same time the traffic slowed and I had to screech halt. I had just enough distance to stop ramming the car in front but the Eeco didn't. I got a minor crack in bumper and a dented panel behind the bumper that'd still set me back by the same amount that the Eeco's crumpled bonnet would have.
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Old 19th October 2012, 22:48   #10
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Post re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Thank goodness you emerged unhurt from this incident SW although reflexively pulling the handbrake could have been dangerous. You're locking your rear tires which means the automobile is going to skid - giving you little control in such a scenario!

Incidentally I witnessed a similar multi-car pile-up northbound on the Santacruz flyover (WEH) yesterday - presumably due to the first guy slamming his brakes hard. Each car had rear-ended the one ahead of it.

In India, we have a tendency to tailgate - particularly (and quite inexplicably) at high speeds on the highway. This is fraught with major risk as is evident from countless such incidents that I witness/hear about. In an emergency braking scenario, it gives drivers absolutely infinitesimal reaction time.

I'm also a big proponent of defensive driving techniques. Anticipation is the key really.

Cheers and drive safe mate

Last edited by Omtoatom : 19th October 2012 at 22:51.
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Old 19th October 2012, 23:06   #11
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Such accidents are regular on the Western Express Highway, the number increases during the monsoon.

Also usually after such a pile up , all the parties involved access the damage on each others cars & chat for a good 15mins thus inconveniencing others & in the process this leads to huge pile up of traffic which could be 2-3 kms long on some days! Why don't they just move aside their cars & park on the left & chat for however long they want!

I was also involved in a 5 car pile up on the Sealink last year. Here's the post - http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/street...ml#post2455323
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Old 19th October 2012, 23:22   #12
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Glad you avoided a bad shunt.

I have a small question though.
In a non ABS car( I am presuming yours is without ABS as youve mentioned screeching and skidding), slamming on the brakes is effectively locking up the brakes. I dont think pulling the parking brake will make any difference.
And rear wheels are the first to lock up even at low speeds, even when the front wheels are still rolling.
Its primarily why they can make do with drums in some cars, rather than discs.
And why we can do handbrake turns( )

Last edited by mayankk : 19th October 2012 at 23:23.
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Old 19th October 2012, 23:54   #13
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

I have myself witnessed several pile-ups on the Western Express Highway.
Thank You mayankk and Vid6639 for the utterly useful piece of information you guys gave pertaining to the use of hand brake. StrangeWizard, quick reflexes and fast thinking I must say. Thank God for it. Also, its very strange for the Indigo driver to stop so abruptly in the middle of the road! Do share with us if you came across it.

A little OT- Few months back I was on my Unicorn returning Malad from Bandra on the WEH. I was following a rickshaw at about 60km/hr; because I have had an accident before so I never go beyond 60kmph mark. I had enough space to brake even if the rickshaw stopped abruptly. Suddenly, a rock of the size of a cabbage( I couldn't relate the size to anything more explainable) came in front of my bike from under the rickshaw(he managed to dodge it through his front and hind wheels). I had never turned or done any speedy maneuvering on my bike at such a speed before; I still remember crystal clear a thought came in my mind "Dead"! I don't know how it all happened so fast I just managed to go pass the rock and also I went so closely by it that it brushed my rear tyre. I stopped by the highway and I took a break for 5 minutes then continued again. I was in such a state of shock. The highway was full of vehicles. A honda City was just 3 metres behind me. I get goosebumps when I think what would have happened if I had went over that rock.

-Bhargav
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Old 20th October 2012, 00:20   #14
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Hi, you have been lucky. A couple of years ago, I had got into a pile up. A car suddenly braked on aarey flyover, he was being followed by a black and yellow cab and a regular private car after that - they crashed into each other. I was able to stop my car without crashing, just like you, and so did a cab behind me. However just as I stepped out of the car, there was a call centre quallis that was coming at a high speed. The driver was pretty late in seeing the stopped cars and rammed into the cab behind me. The force made that cab hit the rear of my car and also pushed it forward such that it hit the car in front of me. So although, I had managed to stop in time, I got hit from both sides!! And the car which had caused the pile up merrily ran away and none of us knew why he had braked suddenly!
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Old 20th October 2012, 00:56   #15
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Default re: Close shave on the Western Express Highway

Quote:
Originally Posted by mayankk View Post
Glad you avoided a bad shunt.

I have a small question though.
In a non ABS car( I am presuming yours is without ABS as youve mentioned screeching and skidding), slamming on the brakes is effectively locking up the brakes. I dont think pulling the parking brake will make any difference.
And rear wheels are the first to lock up even at low speeds, even when the front wheels are still rolling.
Its primarily why they can make do with drums in some cars, rather than discs.
And why we can do handbrake turns( )
Assuming you don't pump the brake when it is locked (keep the brake pedal depressed the whole time) then there is no difference. However, please note that the moment you release the brake pedal, you have some control and with the handbrake up, that disappears.
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