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Regional News of Monday, 27 May 2013

Source: Kojo Smith

On Zanetor Rawlings' facebook wall

A few months before I went to medschool, I was involved in a minor RTA. A 'troski' swerved into my lane without warning and in spite of my best attempts to avoid a collision, one side of my bumper got rammed!

I saw time slow down as the events unfolded, with screeching tyres and all. No one got hurt. Phew! I was petrified of what would happen when my parents found out.

I eventually made it home, and got seriously told off by mother who immediately reported me to my father. This was not going to end well! A few hours later, my dad came to the house and I saw him walk up to the damaged car and do a 'walk around'. He has an eye for detail. Didn't miss anything.

I watched him through the window and broke out in sweat! I saw him shake his head. Oh gosh! So, he walked back to his car and waited for me to come out. We were supposed to go flying that afternoon! I sheepishly greeted him and sat in the car. He started the car and said nothing. So, we drove in silence to the airforce station. It was worse than being shouted at.

We got there, strapped into the chopper and it wasn't until he had started the engines that he turned to me and started to speak. Ha! No escape now! He asked me what happened and i tried to describe it as accurately as possible, including the fact that I was driving a bit fast. Then he said that in an RTA, even when it is not your fault, it is still partly your fault. I may not have veered into someone else's lane, but I could have anticipated better, I could have been driving a bit more slowly, I could have been more aware of what all the other road users were doing... He told me that I had to drive for everyone on the road. I had to anticipate what other road users would do and be preemptive in the way I drove.

Then, he reminded me to be more responsible and careful and so on and so forth. Then he said i was banned from driving till I left home for med school. Then with a signal from the marshaller and clearance from the tower, we were airborne.

Relief, mixed with shame as I replayed the whole incident and the 'talk' in my head. He didn't bring it up again, and I didn't drive until I came back home the following term. I never forgot that conversation and it has governed not just the way I drive but a lot of things in my life.

The fact is that in any situation, I must be able to look at myself; how did I knowingly or otherwise contribute towards the outcome? How could things have played out differently if I had been a bit more aware, observant, sensitive, stronger, patient etc? Even when it is 'not our fault' there is always some thing the we can do to change the outcome, or make things a little bit better if we are willing to assume responsibility for our own actions.