Smash. The smaller car lost all forward momentum and flew sideways off the road.
A normal day
We had been down the mountain to get some cash from the bank. Our shiny new tyres had emptied the wallet and our local taverna doesn’t take plastic. We were following a Japanese hatchback up the mountain road. Margaret was driving and we were discussing a potential vacation.
An abnormal sight
An oncoming car suddenly turned hard right into the oncoming traffic (We drive on the lefthand side of the road in Cyprus). Time slowed to a weird film-effect, like it was running under water.
We both felt we were watching a movie stunt as the larger car hit the hatchback on the front headlight. Smash. Both bonnets crumpled, airbags deployed and the hatchback jumped left onto the scrubland. The saloon stopped dead, a few metres ahead of us, on our side of the carriageway, spewing oil and water onto the tarmac. Margaret is a good driver and had left plenty of distance between us and the hatchback, allowing her to avoid us becoming part of the drama. I hit the hazard lights, jumped out of the car to make sure everyone was alright.
The saloon driver was out of his car, dazed, but upright, and on the phone. To the emergency services, I hoped. I asked if he was OK, and after initial language confusion, he nodded. I kept going to the hatchback. The front of the car looked as though it had been driven into a wall. The windscreen was gone, as was the side window. The young woman driver was vocal, which I took to be a good sign. She was talking and moaning, clearly in shock. I told her that she was OK, as I tried to open the door.
I remember her repeating, in English, that she couldn’t breathe. Judging by the way she was chatting away, there was no shortage of air getting to her, and there appeared to be no damage to her chest – and I surmised that it was the smell of smoke from the engine that was alarming her. (It was scaring the crap out of me.)
Other road users joined me at the car, and we got the woman out from the passenger side. The drivers side was stuck solid. We got her away from the car. The emergency services arrived very quickly, whether by chance or in response to a phone call, I don’t know. I left everybody rattling away at each other in Greek way beyond my elementary level.
The crash shook Margaret up. So I drove on to the taverna where we were meeting friends. Inevitably, we speculated as to what had caused the smash.
The roads are very lightly used here, and perhaps a consequence, people tend to drive too fast. (Myself included.) There remains a culture of using the phone while driving too. Sometimes, it seems that more people are on the phone while driving than not. Whether this was the case here, only the driver will know. The theory, that distracted, the driver thought he was going off the road, panicked and over-corrected, would fit the sudden lurch across the carriageway.
Thankfully, both drivers seemed OK, with no major injuries.