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Old 9th December 2013, 22:36   #1
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Default A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

Yesterday myself and my wife were saved by the skin of our teeth from getting smashed to smithereens.

It was couple of minutes past seven in the evening. I was on my Swift, completing her eighth year, proceeding towards Kottayam and this happened near a place called Kanakkari couple of kilometers before Ettumanoor. There is a blind turn sloping towards left and I slowed down from moderate speed, lesser than 60kmph, seeing a herd of vehicles approaching. Then came this monster, spitting venom in the form of blazing headlamps, all four on high beams, through the extreme right at break neck speed, trying to overtake all the vehicles in front of him in one go.This monster is nothing but the Ernakulam bound private Limited Stop Bus, named "Pioneer".

I applied my brakes, he too. I went farther left as far it can go and stopped and he too. I could see the driver in a civilian shirt breathing down my face. I can still see his face and the burly body high up near my door, looking at me with contempt for arriving there driving abiding the rule and law. I breathed a sigh of relief. Lucky for me that there were no pedestrians any where there.

Why I am posting this is because near misses matters most to analyze and for enforcing corrective action because a near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage;in other words, a miss that was nonetheless very near.

Mods, kindly move this to appropriate thread, if need be.

Last edited by rajeev k : 9th December 2013 at 22:43.
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Old 9th December 2013, 22:54   #2
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

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Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
Yesterday myself and my wife were saved by the skin of our teeth from getting smashed to smithereens.

It was couple of minutes past seven in the evening.

Why I am posting this is because near misses matters most to analyze and for enforcing corrective action because a near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage;in other words, a miss that was nonetheless very near.
If it is 7 in the evening it is well past sunset and all vehicles would be having their headlights ON. and I am sure he could have seen your car headlight ( even in a blind curve, the headlight beam spreads far enough to give an indication to the opposite vehicles that a vehicle is approaching and imminent at the curve ahead). So the bus driver must have knowledge of your approach, but still pushed his luck (and the fate of his passengers and other road users like you) to the brink.

You were less than 60 Kmph. If anyone had approached the curve at a higher speed the stopping distance would not have been enough to avoid a collision. Good that you were driving sensibly.

This reminds me of the private buses plying between Mangalore to Udupi. I am sure they could outpace any rally driver any time. I dont understand why Govt does not asks them to mandatorily install speed governor as is done on Govt vehicles.

Close shave indeed.

Last edited by ashkamath : 9th December 2013 at 22:56.
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Old 10th December 2013, 07:15   #3
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

Hello Rajeev,
I was a frequent traveller on that route till last year, and I have seen the high handed driving habits of those bus drivers many times in the past. Those guys rule the road just by intimidating the smaller ones. I guess it is time our super cop Mr. Singh takes on these unruly lot.
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Old 10th December 2013, 08:35   #4
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

I absolutely dread these private buses on this stretch. Even when the Ernakulam-Ettumanur road was in bad shape, I've survived traveling in these buses just by closing my eyes and praying for dear life. And now that the roads are tarred, I cannot but imagine the situation. After dusk, they have absolutely no respect for other road users. I was expecting this; the biggest mistake these guys do is overtaking anywhere, even on a blind corner.

It's a pity that one cannot confidently take any bend or corner, by assuming that no one will be on our track!
.

Just thank your stars for this lucky escape.
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Old 10th December 2013, 09:09   #5
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

Oh. That was close sir. Glad to hear that everyone is fine. Private bus in Kerala is such a menace. I seriously wish private buses are banned here and more KSRTC services are introduced.
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Old 10th December 2013, 12:06   #6
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

Yes, that was a very good near miss! and let us learn and be prepared in future. This type of complete dis-regard to the basic road safety rules, is very very common. Another similar route where Private buses (some of them "Limited stops") keep breaking every existing rule is Mannuthy to Palakkad on the NH47. Taking all precautions and being alert from our side is not going to improve these situations.
Even bringing KSRTC into these routes are not going to improve. Being KSRTC ( non-accountable to any body) even Ordinary buses do all sort of circus on the road. Forget the Super fast and inter states. Didn't you hear that most of the KSRTC buses do not have any Insurance cover?

Unsafe overtaking is one of the major dangers on our existing 2 lane roads. Looks like, people are not thinking about the consequences of an unsafe overtaking. Assuming that every driver should be having the very minimum "common sense", seeing what some of them are doing is scary- Like an autorikshaw- hardly doing any better speed, trying to overtake a long bus on a narrow road! That guy is hardly thinking about the other vehicle coming from the opposite side.
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Old 10th December 2013, 14:00   #7
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

Usually Kerala drivers are very good but the private bus drivers are the ones I dread the most. There is absolutely no consideration of other road users on their part.
I'm not sure if it is the fault of drivers or with the bus owners pressuring them of more trips per day.
I wonder why such rash driving has been accepted by Keralites; usually they protest and bring high fliers back to ground.
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Old 10th December 2013, 14:35   #8
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Rajeev, good that you are safe and nothing untoward happened. It will be a good idea to post it in Mr. Rishiraj Singh's page, giving the registration number of the bus. Chances are that it will be given due importance and probably we can expect some remedial measure too.
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Old 10th December 2013, 15:30   #9
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

That was indeed a close call Rajeev and good that all these years of driving and your natural road sense of slowing down to appropriate speed before approaching a curve helped you escape from what you could have turned into a head-on collision.

Way back on 2007 when I was driving to Karkala from Udupi I had exactly a similar incident during the afternoon but it was only a Bangalore Registered Mahindra Marshal in this case that was trying to overtake a lot of vehicles in one go at a curve.

He appears in front of me all of a sudden and all I remember doing was swerve extreme left off the road only to find a tree and again back right onto the road so that I didn't collide with the tree. Luckily, this split second maneuver was good enough then. I see in the IRVM and as usual this fella is gone with the wind!

It may look silly but for a driver of these days who gets to drive mostly on 4 lane roads with a median, the experience of driving on single carriageway road is must especially to tackle these kind of situations.

I also find driving at night on such highways a safer option due to the assessment that one can make of an oncoming vehicle due to its beams.
  • Getting used to high beams (I am sure you very much are)
  • Flashing your beams quite regularly while approaching such curves - No, I don't mind spending 200 bucks for a bulb if regular flashing of beams conks the filament more often than usual
  • Switching to low beams for when you are facing extreme glare from the opposite vehicle
  • Not directly looking into the beams but concentrating on the shoulder so that you can safely get down & come back
  • Lastly, not bothering too much about tires tearing as you go off the road is more sensible than worrying about stopping right in the middle of the road

All these & more are so important in these situations and can be life savers compared to braking in the center of the road expecting the other fella to move away like I have seen many do.

God bless!!

Last edited by paragsachania : 10th December 2013 at 15:31.
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Old 10th December 2013, 15:30   #10
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

I thought after the speed-governor enforcement drive by Rishiraj Singh IPS, private buses had been tamed. Apparently not.

The private buses in Kerala are in lots of ways similar to the share-autos in Chennai.
- Both stop at random places to pickup/drop passengers and without any consideration to the traffic behind them who are taken by surprise by the abrupt stop.
- Also, inspite of them having to stop every few hundred metres, they insist on all traffic moving out of the way for them to make this 1/8th mile dash as quick as possible.
- If you decide not to let them have way, they will either honk the daylights out of you or swerve around you in a manner that could endanger you and others on the road.
- And both are highly union-ised and thus a menace that is tough to keep in check.

The other day I was waiting at the bus-stop near my home to catch a bus to Kayamkulam which is 9kms away. A private bus ambles in slowly and I get in along with couple other passengers.
He keeps waiting for another 5mins or so, idling the engine and then moves on. The drive is sedate for the next 8kms and I am surprised as he stops gently at all bus-stops, picks people up and drives on. Just a km before Kayamkulam, all hell breaks loose and he suddenly morphs into a race-driver, scaring other motorists and pedestrians. Apparently there was another bus coming behind which was the reason for this sudden stupidity. Given that the destination was just a km away, how many more passengers can he pick compared to the other bus, to drive at so much of a risk ?

Though boiling inside, I kept silent like the other passengers, who did want to join issue with a crew of 3 guys. Maybe this keeping-silent is what makes these guys do what they want and get away with it.

Last edited by supremeBaleno : 10th December 2013 at 15:32.
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Old 10th December 2013, 15:40   #11
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

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Given that the destination was just a km away, how many more passengers can he pick compared to the other bus, to drive at so much of a risk ?
So sad that this has been the norm in Kerala for many private bus operators since long. They do this not to pick up passengers from the last km, but all the way before, by running late. And by that time, the next bus would have caught up with them. The last km race is for not letting the next bus reach the bus stand before them, else they might loose preference of leaving for the next trip.
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Old 10th December 2013, 16:02   #12
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

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Originally Posted by supremeBaleno View Post
The drive is sedate for the next 8kms and I am surprised as he stops gently at all bus-stops, picks people up and drives on. Just a km before Kayamkulam, all hell breaks loose and he suddenly morphs into a race-driver, scaring other motorists and pedestrians. Apparently there was another bus coming behind which was the reason for this sudden stupidity. Given that the destination was just a km away, how many more passengers can he pick compared to the other bus, to drive at so much of a risk ?
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They do this not to pick up passengers from the last km, but all the way before, by running late. And by that time, the next bus would have caught up with them. The last km race is for not letting the next bus reach the bus stand before them, else they might loose preference of leaving for the next trip.
The last km race may be because there's a punching station. This was the norm on Palakkad-Thrissur and Palakkad-Kozhikkode routes. It was in the papers a few years ago that these private buses used to add kerosene to the diesel, for that sudden acceleration - much like Nitrous oxide for petrol cars.

Rajeev, I can empathize with you. Whenever I enter Kochi city limits, I always have such close shaves. Sometimes the horror doesn't get confined to city limits, it extends to the Ettmanoor-Ekm route as well.
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Old 10th December 2013, 16:44   #13
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Originally Posted by rajeev k View Post
Why I am posting this is because near misses matters most to analyze and for enforcing corrective action because a near miss is an unplanned event that did not result in injury, illness, or damage – but had the potential to do so. Only a fortunate break in the chain of events prevented an injury, fatality or damage;in other words, a miss that was nonetheless very near.
Thank god you're safe. Unfortunately driving in Kerala is turning out to be very stressful and is no longer as enjoyable as it used to be. Please do your bit to stop atrocities like this from happening, please complain to the MVD via their fb page, send an sms or write an email. You may not necessarily know how things proceed from there, but nevertheless do something about it.

The system may well be broken and may take ages to fix. But let's do something positive, one small step from our side.
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Old 10th December 2013, 16:51   #14
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Default re: A near miss; Saved by the skin of my teeth

I guess things have never changed. The first time I saw a bus drifting was in North Kerala. The bus comes tearing down the hill, and its raining. Near the bus stop he hits the brakes, and skids 20 meters to the stop, and also goes slightly sideways, at an angle of 30 degrees to the road.

If anything comes close to "Death Race", its these private buses of Kerala
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Old 10th December 2013, 17:11   #15
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The first time I saw a bus drifting was in North Kerala.
A similar video, I guess is also on another thread on the forum.

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