So you’ve all gathered that I spend a heck of a lot of time in my car. I take the kids out a lot, and we usually drive to most places because I’m not fond of the immediate area around the house. Too many main roads for walking along and the parks aren’t great for two kids that are liable to run off in opposite directions. So we drive to more suitable places.
That said, much of my driving is relatively local, which means we don’t end up on the high-speed ‘A’ roads or motorways particularly often. This is probably a good thing, because the last time we were on the M25, Finley wound down the window and attempted to chuck a blanket out. Bad times.
Anyway, yesterday we went to meet a friend and her 3-year old at the stunning RHS Garden in Wisley. The route there for us is to head southbound on the A3, a road which I have frequented in its entirety, since I’ve been driving (16 years).
Yesterday was a beautiful day, clear skies, sunny and dry. After passing the 50mph section at the Kingston bypass, the road goes to national speed limit for a dual carriageway (that would be 70mph, in case you weren’t sure). So I hit the ‘gas’ (sort of) and upped the speed to around 80mph (can I get done for speeding via a blog confessional?).
Now in my book, 80mph isn’t particularly fast. Maybe I’m an idiot. I’ve driven like an idiot in my younger days, like a proper idiot, driving way too fast and recklessly. I don’t drive like this any longer, but 80mph on a 70mph speed limit on a clear, dual carriageway, with no bad weather seems pretty reasonable.
I’ll get to the point now. So while approaching the Cobham junction, southbound and in the outside lane, my car started to do the scariest thing ever. The back-end began to weave. So at 80mph, on the outside lane of the A3, with the kids on board, my car decided to start shaking its arse. It was terrifying.
I have not taken part in any advanced driving courses, nor am I a driving expert, but thankfully I didn’t panic. I truly believed that I was going to lose control of the car and we were going to head into a horrifying, high-speed spin, where we would instantly perish. However, I held on tightly to the steering wheel and took my foot off the accelerator. I have a theory that applying the brakes in high speed situations where the car is changing direction will end up in disaster, and I genuinely have no idea if this is accurate or not.
After a few long seconds, the car lost some velocity and sorted itself out. I made a beeline for the inside lane and crept along at 60mph until we had to leave the road. I preceded to get on the phone to my mechanic James to anxiously pick his brain about what on earth could have caused that to happen.
In all of my years of driving, I have never experienced any of my cars behaving in this manner. I have had one crash in my life, it was low-speed and entirely my fault. That’s it. I’ve spent years travelling up and down the country on the M6, in varying weather conditions and always at stupid speeds. Nothing. So I was understandably perplexed that this had happened, and I was totally spooked.
James had a look at the car today, took it out twice to test it at high speed and had a look underneath it. He found nothing wrong with it. He suspects that I hit a patch of diesel, which is notoriously slippery stuff and doesn’t evaporate like petrol does. This slipping at high speed sent the car weaving.
I totally trust my mechanic and can see that in the absence of anything mechanically wrong with the car, it is highly likely that the car behaved like this due to road conditions and not mechanics. But this has really spooked me. I’ve always been a super confident and competent driver, and now I feel like a shell of my former driving self.
Although I have no issue with heading onto the A3 now, I don’t want to drive the car over 60mph. I’m feeling nervous about the prospect of going on longer distances, and have become even more nervous about anyone else driving me anywhere at speed. Thankfully it is rare that I’m the passenger, but this doesn’t really solve the issue of me developing an overnight phobia of being driven anywhere at speed.
I seriously hope that time sorts this one out, because I cannot imagine a life of creeping along the inside lane of the (insert whichever dual carriageway) at 60mph, being overtaken by HGVs and taking an eternity to get anywhere.
Have you had any dodgy moments in the car that have spooked you?