Saturday, February 25, 2012

Accidents Happen....

Last year, I wrote a post about Transportation in Cambodia that went into a fair amount of detail about the chaotic and often congested state of traffic, especially within the city limits.  One thing I didn't comment on then was traffic accidents, because it seems to be something that one rarely sees or hears about, except when someone you know is involved.   

The first year we volunteered here, we began to notice markings on the road, but never looked closely at them until someone said these were accident scenes, and the lines had been painted by the police.  Here are a couple of shots of those markings, identifying the location of the vehicle.  Now that I know what they are, I notice a lot more of them. 

This one looks like a bicycle. 
You can make out the two wheels, seat, and front handlebars.
I've never seen them paint the location of the victim(s)

This one looks like a moto-bike.
The handlebars are on the right,
The seat and gas tank are represented
 by the dashed line and the small curve, rrespectively

Never actually having witnessd a moto or bicycle accident, I can only surmise why they paint the lines.  Traffic flow is important here, and I suspect they move the vehicles and victims off the road quickly, and use the markings to continue their investigation later.  When I look at these lines, I wonder what happened, and whether the victims are OK.  Every year, more and more cars and trucks are on the road, and some of them race along at break-neck speed.  I can't imagine a cyclist or moto driver having much of a fighting chance in a collision with a car.

I used to feel fairly safe in a tuk-tuk, especially when we'd get out in the countryside where traffic is scant.  Then yesterday, in an instant, everything changed.  We were riding along merrily down the dirt road that leads to Honour Village, when a huge truck came up fast from behind and passed us.  At that very instant, TeeTee, our tuk-tuk driver, lost control of his moto, and went into a skid.  The tuk-tuk jack-knifed and flipped onto its side.  Fortunately, we were travelling at a leisurely 20-25 mph (30-40 kph), or it could have been worse.  TeeTee ended up on the road, half under his bike with his ankle pinned under the tuk-tuk.  Gordon's ankle was under the edge of the tuk-tuk, and I had fallen out of my seat, across Gordon.  Gordon & I quickly managed to scramble out of the tuk-tuk, (Gordon losing his left shoe in the process).  TeeTee still lay motionless on the ground, and with what I can only describe as super-human strength, we managed to lift the tuk-tuk off TeeTee, and upright it.  We were all shaken.  I'd hit my shoulder and wrenched my back, and Gordon had hurt his ankle, but we were relatively unscatheed apart from a few bruises. TeeTee had some scrapes and his shirt and pants were ripped, but he was able to walk.

Across the way on an adjacent road, a couple of boys on bicycles shouted that they'd seen the truck hit us as it passed.  TeeTee said he'd felt as if the trailer had been pushed from behind, and we can only surmise that the truck, passing us too closely, clipped the roof of the tuk-tuk with his side mirror.  The truck was long gone, and none of us had gotten his licence plate number.  There was nothing to do but be thankful we were all fairly OK, and nothing more serious had happened.  TeeTee was able to get back on the moto and drive us the 1/4 mile (1/2 Km) or so, to Honour Village.

Large trucks travel down our once-peaceful road at break-neck speeds.
They are hauling dirt to fill in the rice paddies
where several large buildings and homes are being built

Gordon and I managed to lift the trailer off TeeTee and get it back on its wheels
You can see the moto is still keeled over,
and the roof of the tuk-tuk is bent down at the back corner.
TeeTee had just recently spend a lot of money fixing up his trailer,
with new paint, new roof and new upholstery,
all of which suffered some damage in the accident.

Once at Honour Village, we got out the first aid kit and tended to TeeTee's wounds. 

Besides some serious road rash on his arm and shoulder,
TeeTee also had a 'dent' in his ankle.
Fortunately for him, he was wearing his helmet,
which is the full-face type with chin guard.
The helmet was badly scraped, and I can only imagine
what TeeTee's face would have looked like
if he hadn't been wearing it.

This morning, both Gordon and I woke feeling like we'd been hit by a truck.  (Wait a minute....We WERE hit by a truck...).  After breakfast, we went across the road to check on TeeTee's injuries.  Gordon redressed his wounds which seem to be healing nicely.  TeeTee's a healthy guy with a great atttude, and you can't keep him down.  As proof of this, he's headed home today to his cousin's wedding. 

Us old folks just don't bounce back like we used to, so I think Gordon and I are going to lay low for the rest of the day.  However, there's a Giant Puppet Parade tonight, and I wouldn't miss it for anything.  It's not that far away, but rather than take a tuk-tuk, I think we'll walk this time.

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