Early in the evening of Sunday 6th May, a car careered off the road on the North Street railway bridge in Horsham, striking the railings beside the pavement.
Judging by the location of the impact, I would guess that the driver ‘lost control’ coming around the dog leg bend as the bridge goes over the railway, and ploughed straight on.
However, this is only a guess, because I have no idea what happened. The incident was not reported in the press. It won’t feature in any accident statistics, because no-one was hurt. Presumably there will be an insurance claim for repair to the damaged vehicle, but that’s about it.
The only reason I even know why the railings are all bent out of shape is because I happened to be passing this way shortly after the incident occurred, and asked a police officer why the road was closed (answer; they were clearing glass and debris out of the carriageway).
So this section of road will continue to be seen as statistically ‘safe’. In the last ten years, there has only been one serious injury on it -
Data from the ITO UK road casualties map
The failure to record incidents like this means that we do not have a true picture of the danger on our roads, particularly for vulnerable parties like pedestrians and cyclists. Drivers are increasingly insulated from the danger they themselves pose, and are increasingly less likely to be injured in collisions like this one. That shouldn’t tell us that our roads are becoming safer. The actual risk posed is being hidden.
In reality, it was only sheer chance that prevented a pedestrian from being seriously injured, or even killed, in this incident.
The bridge is a busy walking route, at all times of day, as it is the only direct route over the railway into most of north Horsham (there is another route, by underpasses, but it is quite circuitous if you want to avoid the bridge). In all probability, there would have been people – someone – walking on the bridge on that Sunday evening when the car went straight on into the railings.
Luckily they weren’t in the wrong place at the wrong time.