From Speeding to Spooked: Nearly Losing Control of my Car

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.

This is me driving a (very bad) rental car on my hen do, many moons ago.
This is me driving a (very bad) rental car on my hen do, many moons ago.  Picture Credit: Holly May Blair of Curlbomb.com

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.

More rental cars - this is me driving our rental car around the mountains in Kefalonia with my handsome Mr Chick
More rental cars – this is me driving our rental car around the mountains in Kefalonia with my handsome Mr Chick

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?

Mama and More
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9 thoughts on “From Speeding to Spooked: Nearly Losing Control of my Car

  1. It’s only natural for you to feel a bit spooked for a while, I think – especially because you had the kids with you. It’s horrible being reminded that sometimes you can get into an accident without doing anything wrong yourself.

    I’ve had a couple of accidents in my time – one where I was unfortunate enough to be the fifth car in a line of heavy braking and I was the one who ran out of space (wrong place, wrong time, but also my fault for following a little too close) and the other where I was rear-ended from behind while sat stationary at a red light by a drunk driver, writing off my car (that one was *definitely* not my fault!) On both occasions I remember being nervy the first couple of times I got back into the car. It does pass though.

    A near escape is a useful (and painless) reminder that we can never be too careful behind the wheel. I’m still a fast driver – I do a lot of high-speed motorway miles – but I’m much more respectful of keeping my distance and not doing silly things than I used to be when I was younger. Funny how having kids does that to you …

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    1. Tim, having kids has calmed me down immensely. I’ve always been a bit silly behind the wheel, but not so now that I’m a parent.

      But this did spook me, and it has been so long since I’ve been involved in any kind of road mishap. As you so rightly say, this was definitely a painless reminder that sometimes things can go wrong through no fault of anyone’s. It is a good reminder to be vigilant and take care.

      My mechanic took my car for a quick speed test with me in it today, and I freaked out. At one point my hands were covering my face. This is not me! He only got the car up to 70mph, for heaven’s sake.

      Your five-car pile-up sounds rather unfortunate, and it also sounds like you were pretty lucky given the circumstances. Not sure your car was as lucky… However, being rear-ended by anyone is worse, let alone whilst stationary at the lights by a drunk-driver. *Definitely* not your fault, indeed.

      I hope that this phobia passes, and passes soon. It is going to hamper my life a bit, otherwise.

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      1. I think you have to let any anxiety run its course naturally. The more you worry about it, the more you will worry, if you know what I mean. As you said in the post, driving is important to your day-to-day life to get from A to B, so I reckon the best thing to do is to get back behind the wheel asap and gently build yourself back up in your own time.

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      2. I know what you mean, and you’re right. I’ve been absolutely fine at low speed around the suburbs. It is driving above 60mph (why I’ve come up with this magic number, I do not know) that is concerning me.

        We’ll have to do so on Saturday, as we’re driving down into the depths of Surrey, via the A3. Either I’ll be driving (horribly slowly) while my husband gets annoyed, or he’ll be driving (normally) while I sit frozen and silent in panic. Neither option sounds particularly appealing. does it?

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  2. Oh, that sounds like such a scary experience. No wonder you were so shaken up. I was involved in a car accident while 8 weeks pregnant with baby number 3 – totally the other driver’s fault, she shot out of a junction into the passenger side of my car, where I was sat, with my two children in the back. For months and months I was scared of being a passenger and would freeze up every time I saw a car approaching a junction a little too quickly. The feeling of fear has definitely faded, but it’s all the “what ifs” and imagining the worst-case scenarios that played on my mind for weeks. I think it is a normal reaction to feel this way and it will fade with time, although as Tim says above, it’s a good reminder to us how careful we have to be on the roads. Hope you are feeling okay xx #allaboutyou

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  3. Oh my word hon you must have been terrified! Really glad you’re all ok though and there’s nothing wrong with the car. I’m a non-driver, and really am not keen on learning but feel it’s inevitable for me at some point. Hugs xx

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  4. Oh crikey hun that must’ve been scary, glad that you were all safe though. From my limited driving expertise I agree that hitting the brakes in a skid or loss of control is the worst thing to do so well done you! I had a scare a few years ago when three cars travelling in front of me in a tunnel on the M4 collided with each other & then the walls of the tunnel in a baaaad way. I narrowly missed them all but we were all travelling at at least 80mph & their outcomes weren’t great. It made me drive very sensibly for a long time. I think sometimes it’s a little nudge to us to be more careful. x

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  5. Bloody hell, I was shaking reading this and I’ve had something a little similar but not as bad where the wind made my usual sturdy 7 seater shake a lot. I tried to keep calm. I tend to not feel comfortable super fast these days. Hate motorways with a passion too. So glad you, the kids and car are all OK-well done for getting it checked straight away and for the fast thinking xx

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    1. It really did take me by surprise. In all the years I’ve done motorway driving (and I’ve done a good share of it in a variety of conditions), I’ve never had anything like this happen to my car. My cars have been buffeted around in the wind, ploughed through torrential rain, all at speed, but never have I gone into a weave. Seriously scary. I was much happier driving fast in my old car, as it was a sporty model and built for handing speed better. Our current car is just a kid-transporter!

      I’m so glad we’re all ok too. I was properly spooked and got straight on the phone to James, who was equally as baffled! He had a good look at the car and said it is fine, and that I probably hit a patch of diesel. Bloody diesel, they should ban the stuff! It isn’t even good for the environment!! xx

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