M5 Incident: Myriad Aspects to Regulation and Road Safety


M5 Incident 28th October 2021. Photo by Michael de Percy CC BY-ND 4.0

Recently, while driving at 100 km/h on the M5, I saw a box on the road ahead. I assumed it was a cardboard box, an item that routinely appears on the M5. Instead, the box was made of checker plate and was full of tools. I saw the vehicle two ahead of me swerve so I moved over as far to the right as possible to avoid the object. But the vehicle in front of me struck the toolbox, causing the tools and spray paint in the box to hit the front of my vehicle. You can see the rest in the video. I did not add the soundtrack, I was listening to the stereo at the time. I stopped the vehicle, got out to check the driver was OK but then grabbed my phone and called 000 while checking for fuel leaks and smoke before approaching the vehicle. As I opened the door of the ute, the diver popped his seatbelt, scrambled out, and stood up next to me. I asked if he was alright and he said "I think so!" That was a lucky day on so many counts.

The next day I found my dashcam had recorded the incident. I hope this helps improve road safety or helps to educate others in any way that improves road safety in Australia. After commuting between Sydney and Gunning for the last two years on a frequent basis, I can say that driver arrogance and over-confidence on our highways are potential killers. But in the video below, this factor was absent. Fortunately, the B-Double missed the ute. Fortunately, nobody was driving like a lunatic. But add an arrogant and aggressive driver to the mix, and you do the math. It's pretty clear. I am so glad I was not being tailgated at the time.

The toolbox had apparently fallen off a new vehicle that had had professional modifications made to it. This brings into question the regulation of light commercial vehicle modifications. Heavy vehicles and their modifications are regulated and audited. But light commercial vehicles appear to exist in a regulatory void that may need addressing. To be sure, there are many lessons to be drawn from this incident, and I hope to report on some of the educational activities that might derive from this particular incident.

Here's the dashcam video: