It was raining heavily.
Cars began to slow at all three southbound lanes of the North-South Highway. I decelerated to about 80 km/h and proceeded along the rightmost lanes, eyeing the middle lane for an opportunity to enter. The leftmost lanes were chocked full of trucks and heavy vehicles lumbering slowly while the middle lane was full of cars. The rightmost lane, however, has fewer cars but distance from each bumper-to-bumper was precariously close.
On the slippery asphalt of the highway under a heavy downpour, it was the perfect recipe for disaster.
On Kilometre 282.4, it happened.
The Toyota Altis in front of my Satria jammed his brakes as the car in front of him had stopped suddenly. I kicked on my brakes, and my car slowed to a halt.
A Neo slammed to my rear with such force making my head snap forward to a nasty whiplash. On the receiving end, my car was propelled forward on the slippery road toward the Altis ahead.
My hood buckled and folded upwards as the front of my Satria crumpled upon impact. Glass shattered from my headlights, and pieces of plastic showered everywhere. A heartbeat later, four impacts not unlike the ones I've experienced were heard.
I shut the engine and hit the button to switch my Hazard lights on. I unbuckled my seat belt and opened the car door. Amidst the heavy rain, I stepped out.
It was a six-car pile-up.
Toyota AltisProton SatriaProton Satria NeoPerodua KenariHonda CityProton Waja
The drivers were stepping out from their respective wrecked vehicles. Glasses and plastic parts were everywhere. Beyond the final car, a traffic congestion was on the onset.
The driver of the Altis, a Chinese in his late-forties stepped out of his car. He opened an umbrella, and came to meet me. Under the shade of his umbrella, I asked him,
"Are you alright?"
He nodded, and he glanced at his rear bumper to access the damage. I followed his gaze.
His car was dented a little, but the tapering line of his trunk showed that the trunk was out of alignment from the impact. I took a look at the front of my car.
Both headlights were shattered but the exposed H4 bulbs were still lit. My front bumper was cracked in places and hung askew horribly. Finally, the hood was folded up and arching back.
Suddenly, two men dressed in crisp, white long-sleeved shirts with neckties, and starched black trousers came to us. One of them was the driver of the Neo that had just rammed into me.
"Are you guys okay?" I asked them.
"Are you going to lodge a report?" came the answer.
"Well..Chances are, I have to as per procedures,"
"Can't we settle this here? We'll pay you," one of them asked.
The driver of the Altis interrupted.
"Why don't all of us move our cars to the side," he pointed to the side of the highway under a flyover "and we discuss there?"
That being said, we returned to our respective car. Nervously, I placed the key into the ignition, and cranked the engine on. With the usual hum, the engine of my Satria ran despite the ordeal. Slowly, one by one, we parked our cars by the side. Highway patrol vehicles came and redirected traffic. The congestion diluted, but people still gawked at the pitiful sight of the six vehicles under the flyover.
Once parked under the flyover, I inspected the damage done on my car carefully. Apparently, after prying open the mangled hood, the engine bay was still intact. No apparent damage was done to the manifold, and the radiator was untouched. It was a minor accident, and my bumpers and grilles took the full brunt of the impact - as how they were designed to. I couldn't assess any damage done to the chassis, so I leave that to the experts. I pulled the latch by the driver seat to release the hatch. I went to the back of the car, and amazingly, the untouched hatch opened fully. The alignments were still fine. The bumper, however, was a different story altogether.
The Altis was dented a little, and suffered no more than a misaligned trunk. The Neo had similar damage to my front, but a lot less. Clearly the chassis of the Satria Neo was as strong as it boasts to be.
Thankfully, there was no violence. We exchanged contact details and I told the driver of the Altis that I'm lodging a police report at the Seremban 2 Police HQ. He intended the same. The driver of the Neo however, sang different tunes. He insisted on my account number and inquired whether I will lodge a report against him. The driver of the Altis eyed me carefully.
"I have all the details necessary, and that's the most important thing right now."
The driver of the Neo seemed somewhat satisfied with my answer, and the driver of the Altis nodded in agreement. The situation was the same with all other affected drivers - details and everything in particular relevance was exchanged. Soon, the passenger of the Neo procured a piece of wire, and together with the driver, they tied the hood, securing them to the chassis. After that, the Neo went off. The driver of the Altis inquired whether I require any other means of assistance, and it was then I realized the dull pain in my neck. It has been hurting from the whiplash. I thanked him and told him I'll be fine. With that, he drove off to the Seremban 2 Police HQ.
An interesting point to this event was the approach of another middle-aged Chinese man towards me. He immediately handed me a business card. On it, was the name of a familliar panel workshop for my insurance company insuring the car. He suggested that for the ease of insurance claims, they offered their service to handle the case from thereof. He said that he would have the company's towtruck to come and take all the relevant & necessary pictures as required for the insurance claim. The tow truck would then bring my car to the police HQ, and then to the panel workshop. After much consideration, I agreed.
Soon, the truck arrived, and it wasn't a tow truck per se, but a flat bed truck. The operator took the car key that I'd handed to him, and he quickly was at task - he drove my car up a ramp an onto the bed of the truck. He rigged the car securely and soon, I was in the cab and on my way.
Onboard, I called Mom and told her everything. I had called my everyone close to me, and some of my friends too, and all those people was glad I'm okay. I'm glad for that.
I had lodged an official police report at the Seremban 2 Police HQ, and my parents picked me up from there. We went to the panel workshop and did whatever paperwork and document-signing necessary.
For three weeks, my ride shall be warded. I shall take that time to recover from this post-traumatic stress.
It is fortunate that yours truly walked out (mostly) alive from a highway pile-up. To those of you who drives a ton of steel, glass, plastic, and rubber - you are carrying the lives of you and yours too.
So drive safely!
Do NOT fucking tailgate!
Doesn't 'safe distance' mean anything to you?
What did you learn at Drivers' Course when you were applying for your Drivers' License anyway?
(Since I have lost my Navigator, I didn't have anything decent enough to capture any photos with. Forgive the low-resolution of my VGA camera on my obsolete phone)