Blog: Dave LeggettTraffic jam from hell, not that bad

Dave Leggett | 2 August 2007

I spent four hours stationary in a traffic jam yesterday on the M40 after an accident involving a truck loaded with gas cannisters closed the highway - both ways - and the exit road. No way out. Switch off the engine and enjoy the views of rolling Oxfordshire fields. 'You must be going absolutely mad,' was the response of people I spoke to on my cell phone.

Well, I was pretty cheesed off to begin with, naturally. And there was that worrying sense of 'how long will we be stuck here?'. Truck driver behind me joked that his double bunk cab could offer B&B at a reasonable rate.

But, in truth, it wasn't that bad an experience. I wasn't in a mad hurry to get somewhere. It was a nice summer evening. There were people to talk to. There was that surreal sense of walking on a weirdly quiet motorway (in order to relieve oneself in the bushes by the hard shoulder - strangely satisfying). Birdsong could be heard. Strangers were starting up conversations. It wasn't quite 'Dunkirk spirit' but there was a sense of 'we're all in this together'. And there was always the radio to listen to.

It was one of those situations that you can do nothing about, so there's absolutely no point in getting worked up.

And when the traffic did finally inch its way out, there was actually a sense of relief because we wouldn't be spending the night in our cars. Result! Most people well behaved and good humoured. Granted though, might have been different if I'd been in a hurry to be somewhere and it was winter and/or raining. 

Just one bit of advice. I was quite pleased that I happened to have some bananas with me (by chance, I'm not normally so well prepared), but having plenty of bottled water in the boot was something I was really, really pleased about. Just make sure you always have a spare bottle or two of drinking water on board for emergencies would be my advice.


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