By on February 9, 2014

impy2006

When I returned to driving, I wasn’t thrilled about the prospect, but I did everything I could to tilt the odds in my favor. I kept my trips to a minimum, during daylight hours, when traffic was light. I deliberately didn’t buy another child seat and I made it plain that I wouldn’t be doing chauffeur duty for my clone until I was considerably improved. I avoided high speeds, crowded freeways, and when it snowed I stayed indoors. Statistically, I set myself up to succeed. I was particularly cheered by the fact that I often went a fairly long time between experiencing anything that even threatened to turn into a collision situation. The odds were definitely in my favor. Hundred to one.

But the tricky thing about hundred-to-one situations is this: there’s still that one.

There’s bravery, then there’s being foolhardy, then there’s just plain desperation. My passenger in my rental Chrysler 200 this past Tuesday had been my passenger before, and recently. But this time she was in the back seat, with her crutches next to her, instead of in the front seat of my Town Car as we loped down a snow-covered rural road. After nearly a month in the hospital, she was ready to see the outside world — and if said tour came at the hands of someone who had nearly killed her, it was a risk she was prepared to take. I couldn’t tell if that was brave of her, foolhardy, or desperate. Still, as we trundled along Westerville Road just south of Route 270 in Columbus, there didn’t seem any reason for concern, and the speedometer was quivering around the “30” mark on a dry, nearly empty road. Let’s take a look at it.

wville1

We were traveling north on this road, just south of the minor intersection. A flatbed tow truck was ahead of us in the center lane, preparing to turn left. Which he did, as we approached his position. He’s the reddish-orange arrow (curse you, MS Paint!); we are the green one.

wville2

At this point, I was busy telling CMW, my passenger, about something amusing that had happened to me and my brother a long time ago, but we both heard it:

screeeeeeeeeeeeEEEEEEEEEEEEEECCCCCHHHHH

I scanned around me and didn’t see anything. Nobody braking to a halt, nobody doing a burnout in the parking lot, nobody swerving around. For half a second I engaged in a robust round of self-evaluation that went something like this: “You God-damned idiot, you’re too stupid and slow to see what’s happening around you. There’s no way you should be back in a car. The two of you have more broken bones between you than Evel Kneivel and when you get hit by what you’re too stupid to find in your field of vision, you’re both dead as doornails.” Then I put that bullshit away and started thinking for real.

Calm down. Trust yourself. Yes, you had a miserable accident. But yes, you’re still the same person who has won a few races by seeing more than everybody around you. Assume what you can see is real. What can’t you see? Where are you blocked?

We were clear all around us. But the noise seemed to be coming from the other side of the tow truck. It was time for a decision. I nosed the Chrysler off the road onto the shoulder and then into the open right side of the intersection, as shown here:

wville3

The noise continued as I braked to a near-halt and the Silverado some distance behind continued towards my position without slowing. Great, I thought, to avoid a noise you’re going to get rear-ended by a half-ton. And then it appeared.

Blue last-gen Impala. Not a 3.6, I dispassionately noted. It appeared sideways in the lane I’d abandoned, swerving around the tow truck, seemingly completely out of control. And as is always the case in a situation like this, I found myself taking notes. White guy, blue-collar features, heavy sawing at the wheel, he’s still working the car, still trying to figure it out. Shoulda hit the brakes alone; if he had room and grip to get around the truck, he had room to stop.

Then the car caught its front end and slewed the other way. I couldn’t help but notice that this situation was remarkably similar to the one had that had fractured nine of my favorite bones and temporarily crippled a very cheerful and attractive young woman. He was going a little faster, and the motions of the Impala were far more dramatic than what my Townie had done, but I expected it would end with him being clocked in the door by that Silverado, which was just now starting to hit its brakes.

In a thing like this, there’s always room for luck, or Grace, or whatever you want to call it. Impala Man didn’t make the third correction and his car hit the curb just as the locked brakes took the steam out of it. He’s the yellow arrow:

wville4

Right about then, the tow truck completed its turn into the parking lot. It didn’t slow or stop or back up to see what had happened. The Impala curbed with an audible BANG! but even as I pulled gently back onto the road and began to consider what my duties as a witness might be, he reversed from the curb and continued the way he’d presumably intended to go.

Well, if he wasn’t going to pursue the matter, I wasn’t going to chase him down and make him do it. The whole sequence of events became clear. Tired/spaced-out/needlessly aggressive tow-truck driver is sick of waiting to turn and he just turns. Impala guy, who was clearly doing more than the 35mph limit for the road, jams his brakes and steers around the tow truck. He then saws the wheel backwards because he realizes he’s about to go nose to nose with a Silverado. ABS makes it possible but this being an old Impala there’s no magic stability control to prevent the final half-gainer into the curb, if indeed it could have been prevented. The driver of the Impy is at least 51% in the right here, but either because he was significantly speeding or because he’s uninsured or because he’s Anton Chigurh he chooses not to pursue it with the Blendon Township police.

As the Chrysler’s feckless World Engine chugged along towards home, my passenger said, “Hey, if you hadn’t gotten out of the way we’d have hit him head-on.” This was absolutely true and it made me shudder a bit. A nose-to-nose 30mph hit isn’t a killer in normal circumstances but both of us are in a position where we’re significantly more likely than the average bear to bleed out after that crash.

“Well,” I responded, “we both heard something.”

“But it wasn’t clear what to do, was it?”

“Not really.” And in truth I’d simply done about the only thing available to me: get out of the way of something that might not have even been actually happening. Luck was on my side. I was lucky because I didn’t have the stereo or a phone call cranked too loud to hear the brake lockup. I was lucky because there was space available to avoid the situation. I was lucky because had the Impy swung wider he’d have collected us in my door and cashed my check with a reasonable amount of finality. I said a prayer of thanks under my breath as we took the 270 ramp, but it was laced with bitterness. For better or worse, I figured that perhaps after my January crash I’d have some good luck coming my way in the future. (And yes, I know that the best of luck had already happened when my son walked away unhurt from that nightmare frame-bender.) Insofar as I expect to spend the second half of the year racing in a couple different series, I’d hoped that the luck would come in the form of avoiding a crash on-track, or perhaps a major mechanical from the first-place driver, or something like that. Something that would lead to a trophy, which I would clutch with righteous ardor.

Nope. If there was a credit balance in that particular account, it’s gone now. Luck is no longer a factor. We’ll run on statistics for a while, taking the slow roads to lunch, watching an increasingly confusing world go by in the windows of our turtle-topped four-cylinder rental, grateful to be alive, doubly glad to make it to bed safe and sound, as subject to the next roll of the dice as we ever were.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

143 Comments on “Trackday Diaries: Oh no, not again....”


  • avatar
    LeeK

    And that is real life, my friends. Things can change forever in the blink of an eye.

    So Jack, buy that really safe Accord and get get your confidence back while you heal. As you’ve heard many times, get your ya-yas on the track and be the safest, most cautious driver you can be on the road. Protect the ones you love with all your heart and skills.

    • 0 avatar
      stpierrewm

      I second this. I have a current generation Accord as a daily driver, and it’s hard to beat the combination of a little driving pleasure, a great value, a very safe car (by today’s safety measurements [whether or not I agree with their usefulness]), an economical drive train, and plenty of room to boot. If you’re looking for vanilla, the Accord is the highest quality there is, in my opinion.

      • 0 avatar
        TOTitan

        My sister has a current accords and they are not what they used to be. The front brake rotors are too small and will warp easily. Also the Honda automatic is lucky to last 100K as a friend in a current Acura recently found out. Their problematic tranmissions are well documented

        http://wheels.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/01/08/honda-transmission-problems-seem-to-persist/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0

        http://www.mdxers.org/forums/14-problems/45441-true-cause-honda-transmission-problem.html

        http://www.pissedconsumer.com/reviews-by-company/honda/honda-s-sad-history-of-design-problems-and-transmission-failure-20100630187789.html

        • 0 avatar
          LeeK

          If you didn’t see previously, Jack is only considering a four cylinder Accord with a manual transmission. He’s also considering a Fusion and a Town and Country minivan. Any of the three would be excellent choices for carrying him and his son in safety, while his Porsches are available for sunny afternoon pleasure drives.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            I think a Mazda6 manual was also in the mix.

            Given Jack’s criteria and access to toy cars, I’ll be surprised if he picks anything other than the Accord. About the only negative thing (and this is subjective) that can be said about the Accord is it’s vanilla, and the toy cars make that a moot point.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            IMO, both the Mazda6 and Accord are excellent cars, and he wouldn’t go wrong with either.

        • 0 avatar
          LeeK

          Jack’s decision process:

          http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/falling-out-of-panther-love/

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          @ TOTitan – Those links are two to almost four years old. The current CVT has nothing in common with previous Honda automatics. I suppose it’s fair to to be skeptical given Honda’s history with transmissions, but I’m not on board with the logic you’re using.

          The rotors do sound like an annoyance. Relevant to the current car, Car and Driver has an ’13 Accord Sport MT in their long-term fleet, and noted the same thing. I haven’t looked into it, but I assume (hope) sturdier aftermarket rotors are available.

          Brake rotors warping might be an interesting piston slap column. I’ve read that rotors don’t really warp; it’s uneven pad deposits that cause the vibrations. I don’t know if this is true or not, but there are lots of strong opinions on various forums on this. Maybe I will head over to the forums and try to kick start this discussion.

          • 0 avatar
            MBella

            First, I don’t know where this theory of rotors not warping came from, but I remember reading that on a stop-tech’s website. I will not buy their products because of that garbage. Many of the modern ceramic or semi metallic pads induce a great deal of heat into the rotors. Also, cost cutting has eliminated stress releaving processes from the production of rotors. As these modern rotors heat cycle the stress is releases and warps them. On most Asian/Domestic cars I service I will warn the customer that this will happen. I usually recommend leaving it alone for about 1000-1500 miles, then have them come back. I turn the rotors, and they will be stable at this point on. My father’s Accord had a pulsation develop around 2000 miles. I turned it myself instead of having them do it under warranty. (I wanted to make sure I removed the absolute minimum amount of stock) At 70,000 miles now on the original pads, there have been no issues.

            European cars have different rotor/pad combinations, and if they are good oe quality parts, they shouldn’t warp for the life of the pad. The rotors are discard only so they get replaced at the next brake job.

        • 0 avatar
          segfault

          All three of those links appear to discuss problems with 2000-2004 model year vehicles, not “a current accords.” Also, the 2013+ Accord uses a CVT in the four cylinder models, which is in no way related to Honda’s previous automatic transmissions.

      • 0 avatar
        TEXN3

        The AWD V6 transmission with a PTO don’t have the same issues the FWD models tend to have due to internal overheating and fluid blockage.

        Stick with a 4 in a Honda and you’ll be good to go for a long time.

  • avatar
    danio3834

    Good instincts. My wife had a similar situation occur to her several years ago when sitting at an intersection waiting to turn left in the Suburban we had at the time.

    From her right side in cross traffic, she heard tires squealing as the light turned yellow to red. She looked, saw a red Aerostar skidding in her direction, looked behind her to see there were no cars, reversed about 2 car lengths and the Aerostar hit the median directly to the left of where she had been. Impressive quick thinking, I’m not even sure I could have managed it so well.

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    The part that infuriates me is that no matter how careful and attentive you are, sh1t just plain HAPPENS.

    I’ve seen that “screw it, they’ll slow down” attitude from drivers of large vehicles before too. Dump trucks, semis, even buses full of passengers. People can just reach a point where impatience overtakes their sense of safety.

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      This is why I won’t drive a motorcycle, and neither will any of my present or future children.

      It doesn’t matter how safe, cat-like or perfect-in-form you are; in a world full of idiots, your odds of escaping serious injuries or death decrease by a factor that must be above 100 fold if you are in an accident – even one caused completely by another driver, whether a 95 year old, scoliosis stricken seniors citizen in a Chevy Spark or a drunken heavy machinery operator in a high-rate-of-speed 2004 Yukon Denali – of you’re on two wheels to begin with, and nothing between you and their sheet metal but the pavement.

      p.s. – This wouldn’t have been a true ‘Jack Baruth’ without the sentence ending with “or because he’s Anton Chigurh he chooses not to pursue it with the Blendon Township police.”

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        “This is why I won’t drive a motorcycle”

        I used to have a motorcycle, I liked it a lot. Then I saw a guy on a motorcycle get decapitated. I sold my motorcycle and have never given it another thought

        • 0 avatar
          Flipper35

          Dad was one of the first at an accident where the driver of the dump truck got decapitated. Turns out he (the dead one) and another dump truck driver were racing each other.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I can’t deny the allure of a motorcycle… my preservation instinct has always been a bit stronger though.

        The physics and the odds are just not in our favors.

        I was involved in a low speed collision as a cyclist. My luck that day (I was 0% at fault) was that he needed to slow down enough to “safely” run the red, ie not overcook the right turn he was trying to make.

      • 0 avatar
        Charliej

        It does not matter if you are on a motorcycle or in a car. I have seen a dump truck run completely over a car that was stopped at a red light. No survivors in the car. Also, seen a semi whose driver never hit the brakes before running over two cars stopped on the interstate. There was an accident, traffic stopped, the semi did not. No matter what you drive, there can be an accident that will kill you. I drive a small car. I ride a motorcycle. In 54 years, I have been in one car accident and two motorcycle accidents. Paying attention to what you are doing, is better than buying the biggest piece of crap that you can afford, in keeping you alive.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          It does matter, and to a tremendous degree. From NHTSA:

          “[b]ased upon the average number of miles traveled by every type of vehicle on the road, in 2011 as a rider you were 30 times more likely than a passenger car occupant to die in a motor vehicle traffic crash and five times more likely to be injured while out riding a motorcycle.”

          • 0 avatar
            joeveto3

            I ride because it relieves job induced stress, thereby reducing the liklihood of a heart attack. If my riding exposes me to other risks, so be it. Life is a balance of risks/reward until we die.

            To each their own

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          “Paying attention to what you are doing, is better than buying the biggest piece of crap that you can afford, in keeping you alive.”

          The data says the complete opposite. Fatality rates are a fraction of what they once were because of improved crash design and safety equipment, and motorcyclists are naturally at far greater risk because of the lack of crush space.

          The reality is that most of us are unlikely to die in car crashes. On the other hand, deaths are frequent enough that the odds aren’t so low that the risk should be ignored. Hence, a great deal of effort is devoted to making cars safer; compared to decades ago, we’re easily saving 100,000 deaths per year.

      • 0 avatar
        st1100boy

        1. It’s a dick thing to say, but I can’t help myself: One rides a motorcycle. One doesn’t drive a motorcycle anymore than one can drive a horse. Pilot, maybe. But not drive.

        2. I’m wired differently, I guess. After seeing loved ones and friends stricken with cancer and various cruel diseases and blessings of aging, I don’t necessarily see getting leveled by a Peterbilt or some other brain dead cage driver as such a bad thing.

        3. Nevertheless, I do take reasonable precautions to tip the scales in my favor: Good quality riding gear, plenty of training, over 200k miles experience, and I do the vast majority of my miles on empty two lanes with very little city riding, almost no commuting, and not even many freeway miles.

        • 0 avatar
          Lie2me

          Everyone comes from different perspectives based on our life experiences. Riding a motorcycle was pure pleasure for me until I saw a man’s head, still inside his helmet, sail across an intersection like a free thrown basketball, then I couldn’t think of anything else when I looked at my bike. It could no longer give me the pleasure it once did, so without regret I got rid of it. It brought home the fact that when riding or driving a motorcycle you have a near zero chance of coming out of a mishap intact

      • 0 avatar

        +1 on the Anton Chigurh reference. Driving these days really is No Country for Old Men.

        I have the same problem with motorcycles–I want one, but not enough to ride in a field of idiots.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Don’t be too sure about your luck account returning to zero. The rules of karma require that you have one fortunate circumstance for every broken bone. Now is a good time to be a miser, though. Karma doesn’t like foolhardy.

  • avatar
    Mike

    “Shallow men believe in luck, believe in circumstances: It was somebody’s name, or he happened to be there at the time, or, it was so then, and another day it would have been otherwise. Strong men believe in cause and effect. The man was born to do it, and his father was born to be the father of him and of this deed, and, by looking narrowly, you shall see there was no luck in the matter, but it was all a problem in arithmetic, or an experiment in chemistry. The curve of the flight of the moth is preordained, and all things go by number, rule, and weight.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, The Conduct of Life (1860); Worship

    Congratulations for successfully avoiding an accident, Jack. Your years of drivers training and your commitment to being a better driver than average paid off this time. Skill, not luck, was the determining factor in your success. Now, get back in the saddle and do what you do best.

  • avatar
    areader

    This is why I drive a 1 ton Chevy Express. Much heavier than cars and I’m sitting up so high that even a T-bone hit will nail my feet unless it’s from a high pickup or dump truck. Curtain airbags from ceiling to my butt. Noisy and rough with poor MPG, but safer than just about anything. Inconvenient but not as much so as being crippled.

    • 0 avatar
      Davekaybsc

      I’ve never understood this train of thought. Are you so paranoid about accidents that you’ll drive an Abrams Tank that you don’t even like? That has little to no data about how it actually performs in front and side impacts, and has a high chance of rollover?

      Are you aware that in a high-speed, emergency lane change situation you will do FAR worse than something like a Honda Accord that is not rolling misery to drive? Or do you just plan to just take the hit, whatever it will be, rather than a car that might be able to swerve and avoid an accident situation, or emergency brake to not run into it. I’m going to assume you don’t have carbon ceramics on that thing so you’re not going to stop in any reasonable distance.

      Weight is not ALWAYS your friend.

      • 0 avatar
        Wheatridger

        You are wearing a crash helmet at all times, areader?

      • 0 avatar
        areader

        I do not drive a tank, Abrahms or otherwise. I’m more than willing to tolerate a little noise and bumpiness on rough roads to gain more safety. YMMV. As far as safety ratings are concerned, by van is an ’08 and has been rated 5-star in front and side impacts before the older model years were ‘rolled off’ as newer models became available. I saw the videos. Relatively few full sized vans are sold so testing them is not a high priority compared to more popular vehicles. Certainly a taller vehicle has higher rollover risk than a Miata for example. I’ll take my chances in my van vs. any small vehicle. My van has stability control, and safe brakes. Brakes in these things are designed for heavy loads which I never have. With the recent road conditions in the Midwest, I’ve read of several fatal crashes. In EVERY case, the driver of the lighter vehicle died regardless of who was at fault. I’ve never been seriously injured in a crash, and my only close call involved a driver running a stop sign. She was in a medium sized CUV and I was driving a CRX. I T-boned her. She was unhurt, and my tiny car spun into the oncoming lane with my head hitting the back of the passenger seat giving me an concussion. Driving my van I would have been unhurt and the other driver killed. An oncoming vehicle in the lane I crossed would have finished me instantly. I would have been killed if I’d been 8′ farther down the road as I would have been T-boned. I sold the CRX as soon as it was repaired.IMO people are way too optimistic about their ability to avoid a crash. You can’t avoid what you don’t see or see in time to react. I’m not campaigning for other people to switch to heavy vehicle. Lighter vehicles improve my odds.

        I’m well aware of the vulnerability of my van if I have to take sudden evasive action. I can reduce the likelihood of such situations to a degree by maintaining distance from other vehicles; especially groups of vehicles where one of them might have to take sudden measures.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          I see why you’re afraid. But even if you told me I was going to be in a bad accident at 5:45 this evening, I wouldn’t select your vehicle to be driving at that time. A van is optimized for two things; cargo space and cargo load. Everything else is secondary. That huge open space behind you might be helpful if you’re rear-ended, I grant you that. In a front end collision, however, you’re sitting far forward behind a hood that’s as short as a subcompacts’. And I believe our ace crash tester JB has proven the value, or lack of it, of a steel ladder frame in side impacts.

          It’s a rough world out there. And I’m getting the feeling that maybe even rougher in Ohio! But if I perish in s crash tomorrow, I’ll be glad I didn’t spend my past 23 accident-free years driving around in an empty cargo container.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            What Wheatridger said. I would not pick a ladder-frame vehicle, particularly one with a snub nose, for maximum collision survivability. If I were concerned with that above all else (I am not), I’d pick a large, heavy, unibody car such as an S-Class or Audi A8, or in a more affordable range a very large CUV like a Chevy Traverse or Ford Flex. It will do better than your van in almost every collision and it’s just as heavy.

          • 0 avatar
            golden2husky

            The other flaw to the heavier is better mindset is that you have to continually upsize as those vehicles around you continue to grow in weight. Once upon a time 4000 lbs was the heavyweight. Due to the incessant mentality of Americans that bigger is always better, 4000 lbs is outclassed by a fairly significant percentage of the fleet out there.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Space, not weight, is where safety lies. Space gives you room to not hit things, and for structure to be included that absorbs the impact & reduces shock.

            Added mass does help *you* when hit by another moving vehicle, but it increases the odds of killing everyone else. However, added mass is more difficult to stop/maneuver and is more dangerous to you if you hit an immovable object. All that added energy & momentum goes somewhere when you come to an abrupt stop around a tree.

        • 0 avatar
          gogogodzilla

          Why are you so willing to trade safety for the manueverability of a van? A 60-ton, multi-million dollar Abrams tank is *FAR* safer.

          The point is that people trade safety for maneuverability. You, yourself, have done so. Yet, the argument you bring contradicts the actions you’ve taken.

          And so people will point that out.

        • 0 avatar
          Maymar

          You think your van could kill someone in an accident, and you’re okay with that?

          • 0 avatar
            Compaq Deskpro

            I’d rather mourn someone’s death than be dead.

          • 0 avatar
            Maymar

            I almost get that, but at what point do you go from taking due dilligence to protect yourself to selfishly endangering others?

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “…at what point do you go from taking due dilligence to protect yourself to selfishly endangering others?”

            Question of the day and one I hope I never get called on to answer

    • 0 avatar
      Sam P

      If you’re desperately paranoid about automobile safety, a big unibody crossover like an Acura MDX or a Buick Enclave is probably the best way to go. More modern safety features than your van and better emergency handling (as in not hilariously easy to roll over).

      • 0 avatar
        wstarvingteacher

        paranoid applies when has delusions. This crap is really out there. I don’t go that far myself but cannot ridicule one who does. Especially is kids are involved.

      • 0 avatar
        NMGOM

        Sam – – –

        I’ve always believed in full BOF pickup trucks for much of the same reason…

        —————–

        • 0 avatar
          Wheatridger

          That heavy, reassuring steel frame is under your vehicle. That’s the one direction from which you are least likely to get hit. How is that safer, exactly?

          From your perspective, a unibody car must seem like a thin eggshell, with no visible means of support. But millions of years of evolution have proved that an eggshell is is the strongest possible structure, because it transmits impacts through its entire structure. From my perspective, your trucks and vans is like a shoebox with a sturdy wooden bottom. The strong platform on the bottom doesn’t help make the box stronger, or less crushable- it would only help you carry a heavier load.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            That frame is a secondary protector, modern BoF, ie one that weren’t designed 30 years ago ala panther platform.

            Everyone here pushing unibody cars are ignoring the tons of mid speed accidents that cause those cars to rip in half, after that, safety is out the window.

            A lot of misinformation here based on jacks experience on an antique platform, how would a modern from ground up BoF car do? No one knows, to deny or ridicule that fact would go completely Against what many here preach in regards to 4 cyl sport cars and compact/midsize trucks.
            I’m not saying a cargo van sounds like a safe choice, but its rediculous to say BoF vehicles are inheritally unsafe.

          • 0 avatar
            Sam P

            OK, I’ll play. The Jeep Wrangler is a modern BOF vehicle, designed in 2007 that had a substantial mid cycle refresh in 2012.

            Check out the Jeep Wrangler side impact results. Compare them to the Honda CR-V. Both are smallish four by fours that weigh within a few hundred pounds of each other.

            http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/jeep/wrangler-2-door

            http://www.iihs.org/iihs/ratings/vehicle/v/honda/cr-v

            The Honda scores “Good” in side impacts. The Wrangler scores a “Poor”.

            So what’s that about unibody cars ripping in half in mid speed accidents again? Please, give me a better data point than than some anecdote.

          • 0 avatar
            Hummer

            Just saw this and thought of this thread

            http://flashoffroad.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=1726

  • avatar

    Very well-written, given the subject matter-maybe because of the subject matter.

  • avatar
    Beerboy12

    I would argue the Imapla guy was very much in the wrong. Swerving into oncoming traffic, especially where you can’t see oncoming traffic, is criminally negligent. The tow truck was clearly blocking the view ahead for the Impala and also clearly in the wrong but… The Impala drivers reaction was even more dangerous. A head on crash is far worse than the Impala t-boning a truck.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      In addition, his shenanigans in the oncoming lane were necessary because it sounds like he was at least 10 mph over.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      This. Since he had enough room to swerve crazily, if he had slammed on the brakes at the very moment of perceiving the tow truck, it’s pretty much certain he would have hit it at less than 20 mph. That’s a sore neck and a mangled front clip. Much, much less terrifying than exposing yourself to a potential head-on collision with a driver less attentive than Jack.

    • 0 avatar
      redav

      A fact that many people miss: It’s possible for everyone to be (in the) wrong without anyone being (in the) right.

  • avatar
    ...m...

    …defensive driving preaches two mantras: don’t drive any faster than you can see, and always leave yourself an out…

    • 0 avatar
      NMGOM

      …m… – – –

      Yup. Pounded into my head in a full 1-semster driver training course in 1959. How many young people are taught that nowadays?

      ———–

    • 0 avatar
      luvmyv8

      Absolutely. I abide by the “bubble” principle when driving… leaving plenty of room around me whenever possible and always leaving an “out” should sh*t happen. Which it can and will happen. Also scanning ahead of you….. I live in San Diego and traffic is fairly common on the freeways I commute, that’s why I pay attention ahead of me so I see traffic ahead of me slow down/stop.

      Driving a Jeep Wrangler really reinforces my driving habits as in an accident, my odds aren’t so favorable and extreme emergency manuevers don’t go over too well either. Though my Pentastar V6 can easily do it, anything anything above 80 is just plain suicidal in a Wrangler. I generally keep around 70 or so.

      The problem is, you may do everything right, BUT it doesn’t mean everybody else will either. That’s why also I keep a habit of checking my mirrors as well for people behind me. Before I merge, I look over and make sure nothing is next to me or if somebody is going to try to burn ahead of me. While not completely fair, but it’s just too common, I’ve learned to really hate BMW’s and their drivers. Often times I’ll be in the slow lane minding my own business when some asshat pulls up behind me in a late model BMW and rides my Wrangler’s bumper with only a few inches to spare where I see the driver on his phone ranting and raving, only to suddenly fly into the lane next to me without signaling and then cutting me off by inches (again no signaling)and flying down the freeway at 90-100 MPH. It’s an everyday occurance and I’m pretty sure it isn’t just me either. I practically have to scrape those damn ’roundels’ off my tailgate….. The other thing that does grind my gears are people who do 55 MPH in the fast lane…. that’s a recipe for disaster. I only use that lane to pass slower drivers, but I also watch out for those as well, I usually see the offender or I see the taillights or the cars moving over to pass.

      Another bad thing that I avoid at all costs are ‘wolfpacks’ on freeways…. a large clump of bad drivers in tight quarters for really no good reason is a recipe for something bad to happen. If there’s no safe way around it or no way to not become part of it, I’m getting off the freeway at the next exit.

  • avatar
    Flybrian

    Obtaining my private pilot’s license 10 years ago contributed three things to my driving benefit – constant scanning (of both instrumentation and the view around you), general situational awareness (seeing through car windows around you, being aware of that distracted tailgator as traffic slows ahead), and always looking for an out.

  • avatar
    jco

    in general, I do my best to keep my options open. i pay specific attention to cars in lanes in front, behind, next to me. cars can come out of nowhere, and often your brain can command you to react quickly enough to avoid, as long as there is space around to occupy should another vehicle intrude upon the space you’re currently occupying.

    something you said in a post, I can’t remember how far back, has stuck with me. you said something about keeping your eyes up and looking as far ahead as possible. when you do that, your mind will still continue to process the visual information happening between that far-forward point and your own vehicle so that if something happens in that space, you will react to it. really wish i could find that post now. and i had for the most part been practicing this whenever I drove, but you put such a fine, eloquent point on it.

    and i 100% see this happen every day on the road. in a highway situation, you will see some vehicles braking with the flow of traffic, while others will come up to a slowing block of cars without any sort of deceleration until the last possible moment.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheatridger

      “Keep your eyes up…” That’s a great summary of the best practice for safety. I’d also add that you should keep your field of vision clear of distracting bling. That means no fuzzy dice and love beads dangling from the mirror, and no bright mapping gizmos attached to the windshield. And keep it clean, folks- the windshield, that is. At least half the other drivers I notice seem to have ignored those housekeeping chores.

      Eight years ago, I was introducing my kid to downhill skiing. Once she got the basics and joined the crowd on the slopes, I was always reminding her not to stare at her ski tips, which is a very common beginner’s mistake. Look far ahead, instead, but also you need to maintain peripheral vision to avoid turning into the path of a faster skier as they pass. Ski slopes have no lane lines, and everybody’s swerving s-turns in their own personal rhythm. The demands that skiing a crowded trail makes on your quick decision-making abilities surely must rival a race course. I think those days on the slope will make her a better driver.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        cycle commuting a few months of the year has helped my driving i think… It reminds me of what cyclists and pedestrians are likely to do and I find my scanning and situational awareness are better for it.

    • 0 avatar
      AoLetsGo

      I do not auto race but I am sure the high speeds train you to watch what is happening way down the road. I know in mountain biking your in big trouble if your looking down and not keeping your eyes peeled forward looking for the rocks, roots, turns and hills coming up.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I have to agree with Beerboy. Yes, the truck is the bad guy, The Impala added to it. By going too fast, and not being defensive enough. Ya gotta think, “is that MF in the tuck going to turn on me ” slow down and be ready.

    Cutting to the blind left???? Russian Roulette! in my books.

    The good news, is that nobody got hurt.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    Sometimes the absence of information is valuable information:
    “Assume what you can see is real. What can’t you see? Where are you blocked?” Good call Jack.
    I wonder of the psychopath in the tow truck would have stopped if he’d caused a head on? No, there’s no doubt; he’d have driven on.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      The pedestrian who caused the accident in which my Focus got totaled didn’t stop. She walked right out into 45MPH traffic, causing a chain reaction of brake slamming. After I hit the guy in front of me, I saw her step onto the median, throw a customary glance in our direction, turn back around and keep walking.

      It was fortunate for all parties involved that a) the guy I rear ended got out and ran after her, and b) there was a police cruiser already near us just a few blocks away. Otherwise she would have just left.

      • 0 avatar
        Kevin Jaeger

        It doesn’t really matter why the guy in front of you hit the brakes. It’s your responsibility to leave enough room to stop in the event he has to make an emergency stop.

        The pedestrian may get a jaywalking ticket but this accident looks to be your fault to me.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          The way it turned out the pedestrian did get ticketed, and I didn’t.

          I know it sounds as simple as saying “I was following too closely” but that really wasn’t the case. Probably were 2 car lengths between us. It wasn’t that I didn’t have time to react, because when I saw his brake lights I also slowed some, assuming (wrongly) that he was about to make the next left. It’s a game of seconds- an instant later I realized that he wasn’t slowing gradually, that he had STOMPED the brakes. At that point it was simply too late to stop in time. Neither you nor me, nor anyone out there screeches to a stop every time they see brake lights. I reacted in my normal manner to what was regrettably an abnormal situation.

          I never saw the lady until after it was all over (I should mention it was dark). When he jumped out of his car I thought he was about to whip my ass, but he ran straight after her.

          Again, I know it’s easy to assume that it’s all on me, but neither the police nor my insurance company saw it that way.

          • 0 avatar
            Wheatridger

            Maybe we’d all be better off if the redundant third brake light was repurposed. Make it a PANIC stop light, activated only when the brake pedal is activated with enough pressure or suddenness.

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            >> Maybe we’d all be better off if the redundant third brake light was repurposed.

            I believe Mercedes makes an adaptive brake light; when brake pressure exceeds a certain threshold, the brake lights will pulse or flash. I think that’s a great idea but I don’t think it’s approved as a standard in the U.S. (yet).

          • 0 avatar
            Beerboy12

            No offense meant but following distance means a bit more than giving the guy in front of you space to slow down for a turn. Looking ahead of the car on front of you may have allowed you to see the random skittl… pedestrian. If you did not have time to work out there was an emergency stop happening you were too close, end of story, no excuses…
            @Wheatridger some European cars also pop the hazard lights on under hard braking. I will sometimes do that manually when traffic slows suddenly and I am not sure people behind me have seen it… I don’t want to be rear ended ;-)

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            When you see the ass-end of a car raise up about 6-8 inches during braking it’s usually a dead give away that this is a panic stop

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            You’re supposed to leave enough distance so that you can respond to the actions of the car ahead of you.

            To be blunt, the cop blew it on the law. It sounds as if the pedestrian may have violated the law by cutting off the other driver, but you were at fault for the crash because you were tailgating and struck the other vehicle.

            I realize that in the real world, it is virtually impossible to drive on most roads without tailgating, but you are obliged to leave enough room to stop for the vehicle ahead of you, irrespective of why the other guy hit his brakes.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            “To be blunt, the cop blew it on the law”

            It’s not always the fault of the person who does the rear ending. In my state if the driver of the car hit displays negligence which caused the other driver to hit them…

            Here are two examples given:

            “Vehicle 1 is struck in the rear due to the reckless behavior of the
            driver of Vehicle 1 (example: Vehicle 1 slams on the brakes because
            someone is tailgating the court may find that both drivers are equally
            at fault.)

            Vehicle 1 is struck in the rear due to negligence of the driver of
            Vehicle 1 (example: Vehicle 1 suddenly swerves into the lane of
            Vehicle 2 without looking and Vehicle 2 cannot avoid the rear-end
            collision.)”

            It happened to me, I was not ticketed

          • 0 avatar
            WheelMcCoy

            >> When you see the ass-end of a car raise up about 6-8 inches during braking it’s usually a dead give away that this is a panic stop

            Or when his tires are smoking. This happened to a car in front of me, but I had enough distance for my own panic stop which sent my bag in the front seat flying to the floor.

            Then I glanced in the rear view mirror and hoped I wouldn’t be rear ended by an approaching Subaru wagon. He was able to move to the next lane.

            I’d still prefer a pulsing brake light to signify a panic stop.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            “Vehicle 1 is struck in the rear due to the reckless behavior of the
            driver of Vehicle 1 (example: Vehicle 1 slams on the brakes because
            someone is tailgating the court may find that both drivers are equally
            at fault.)

            Vehicle 1 is struck in the rear due to negligence of the driver of
            Vehicle 1 (example: Vehicle 1 suddenly swerves into the lane of
            Vehicle 2 without looking and Vehicle 2 cannot avoid the rear-end
            collision.)”

            One who makes a deliberate effort to cause his own crash will be at least partly at fault, of course. But that doesn’t eliminate the responsibility to avoid tailgating.

            Tailgating involves following too closely behind a vehicle in the same lane. A car that suddenly swerves into your lane and causes a crash wasn’t being tailgated.

          • 0 avatar
            redav

            Wheatridger wrote: “Maybe we’d all be better off if the redundant third brake light was repurposed. Make it a PANIC stop light, activated only when the brake pedal is activated with enough pressure or suddenness.”

            I personally would like a graduated/incremental third light. For example, a strip of LEDs where the middle like a customary third light comes on for regular braking, but as deceleration intensifies, more of the strip lights up. My intuition thinks an accelerometer rather than pedal force should be the determining factor for the ‘severity’ of braking.

        • 0 avatar
          Beerboy12

          +1

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    I almost got decapitated once… driving my 97 Dakota to work one morning on US58 in rural Brunswick County Virginia. Even though it was dark, I still feel that I should have seen that empty logging truck making a u-turn from the westbound to the eastbound. But I didn’t, not until I was only a handful of car lengths away. The bed level of the trailer was literally at the height of my head, and my hood would have gone under. Once I saw it, all I could do was hit the brakes and swerve. The embarkments on that stretch of road were pretty deep, and I fully expected to go down and hopefully survive the rollover. I never even saw the driveway that I wound up in. It was just THERE. Somehow that’s where the truck went when I swung the wheel to the right with all my strength. Somehow I skidded to a stop on a gravel driveway with my heart pounding at about 23,842 BPM. It all ahppened so fast that my life didn’t even have time to flash.

    I don’t believe in much, so I can’t explain how I made it out of that alive and unscathed. The odds were practically nil. Only a few events in my life could be described as “miraculous” and that was one of them.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    Part of my freeway defensive driving is trying to keep an open field of vision ahead of me if possible. Myself when I get stuck behind a pick-up or mini-van that blocks my forward view I will significant add space to compensate or I will change lanes. I like seeing brake lights come on 3~4 cars ahead of me rather than just being able to view the single vehicle in front of me.
    With all the later model cars having high trunk lines and reduced greenhouse visibility it is getting to be a challenge to see what is going on ahead of you. (same for turning left when your are behind a vehicle)
    There is nothing worse than being close behind a vehicle that blocks your forward vision then seeing their brake lights come on. So do you start braking hard or are they just slightly adjusting their speed?
    Will they be moving left or right to leave you to smack what ever is going on?

    • 0 avatar
      gogogodzilla

      My thoughts exactly.

      I’d add that I view brakes as a means to stop. Unfortunately, too many drivers nowadays view braking as something to use at the same time as the gas to adjust their speed in microscopic increments.

  • avatar
    readallover

    One thing my Father drummed into my head: Never assume the other guy is going to do the right thing.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Damn life is like that. I’ve been fortunate that in 20 years of driving that I’ve never had an accident but I know that it is luck of the draw. In the past two years my job has increased the number of miles I pile on each year and I know that the more time you spend on the road the greater the chance of something happening. Mid 30s must be the time for me to finally get more reflective and more careful.

    Life must be lived, not observed, but it makes simple sense to try to find the logical ways to mitigate risk. As I’ve said since Jack’s accident my next vehicle purchase, safety is one of the factors in making a purchase decision.

    I’ve always been good about trying to be situationally aware, but that’s because I’ve never trusted the “other guy” to be.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I see a common trend, Jack – DOMESTICS! Get out of those traps!

    Sheesh, no words.

    • 0 avatar
      Flybrian

      One in every crowd…

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Quite ignorant, especially in light of the fact large Fords use a Volvo platform.

      No words indeed.

      • 0 avatar
        Stumpaster

        Obviously I was making a joke. But for the humorless, enough with the koolaid.

        “The Ford CD4 platform (for “C/D-class”) is a Ford global midsize car automobile platform. The platform is designed for either front, all-wheel drive and Ford’s hybrid powertrain. Ford Motor Company developed the CD4 platform to allow the company to cut months of development time, saving money and bringing the vehicles to market more quickly, as part of One Ford strategy.”

        Or did you mean the S40 Volvo platform?

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Scary story, and happy that it ended well. Had you been in a Phaeton you probably wouldn’t have heard him…
    BTW, I don’t know if everyones driving has turned to the worse the last months, or if I have just become more aware of it after the accident. I guess there is some mild PTSD involved…

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Jack’s story sounds like the one a NY State Trooper told me a few years ago. He was on his bike(Buell) stopped at a red light behind another car, when he hears the squealing brakes and tires thing, a lot like our Jack. As he explained it to me, he figured what was about to happen so he rolled onto the throttle and shot off to the right hand shoulder. KABOOM, the car that had been ahead of the trooper and his bike just gott creamed from the rear.

    I note that in both Jack and the trooper’s cases we have highly trained drivers.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    As an Impala guy, I’m happy it wasn’t me!

    A close friend has witnesses many goofy things, traffic-wise. Fortunately I haven’t had too much of that experience.

    Jack, I’m glad you weren’t “blessed” twice, especially since you’re still healing – and may never be 100% again, but heal you will, and you’ll be back in the saddle again in no time!

  • avatar
    cgjeep

    Bet the Impala didn’t even have ABS. The rental companies were able to order theirs with ABS delete to save money. My Brother in Law has an 07 without it. Car used to belong to Enterprise.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      Hopefully your brother-in-law’s car is an exception. Skipping ABS sounds like a dumb way for Enterprise to save money.

      • 0 avatar
        cgjeep

        No, was pretty common. I don’t think they are the only company that did it. They deleted side airbags on Impalas too. Matter of fact TTAC had an article about it;

        http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/08/enterprise-deletes-impala-standard-sidebags/

    • 0 avatar
      Atum

      They aren’t completely cheap. Explain why they don’t use Escape S models, Grand Caravan AVP models, and Camry L models in their rental fleets?

    • 0 avatar
      Brian P

      That’s the thing that was bugging me the whole time reading this article … I thought that ABS was standard equipment through the whole generation of that Impala body style, in which case there shouldn’t have been squealing tires except if it was due to cornering. Rental ABS delete makes sense; another possibility is the car had a bad wheel speed sensor and the ABS was faulted out.

      A lot of newer cars use the ABS systems to handle the front/rear brake proportioning and if ABS is not working, one end or the other will lock up prematurely. The last couple of cars that I’ve owned (both with standard ABS) were/are like that.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    Jack, what is happening to the CB550?

  • avatar
    Aleister Crowley

    All this talk of accidents is making me consider purchasing a 2014 Subaru Forester. Please feel free to talk me out of it.

    PS Good luck Jack and great writing as usual.

  • avatar
    morbo

    Crash survivability was one of the reasons I bought my ’11 Chrysler 300C. Co-worker of mine had the previous gen (’05); my ’11 being the heavily refreshed version. He got T-Boned at 40mph (passengers side) while doing 50, pushed into the traffic light pole, and had the traffic light pole fall on top of his 300. And he walked away from that some with some minor bruising and minor burns from the airbags.

    I grew up on a diet of Caprices, Bonnevilles, Thunderbirds, and Sierras. I know the appeal of the last ‘Murican iron that the Town car represented. When I was shopping in 2011, I really did consider a Town. Admittedly U-Connect and price won me over to Chrysler, but had the Town Car had a decent infotainment system (and Hyundai Genesis’ not been overpriced), I probably would have made Jack’s mistake in buying a Town Car.

    Heavy, Wide, Low. With modern energy absorbing crumple zones, side impact airbags, and a strong roofline. Safest thing on the road besides a Tesla.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    I don’t practice psychology for a living, but you need to forgive yourself for the last crash and move on.

    I don’t know your passenger, either, but my guess is that you are blaming yourself far more than she’s blaming you. Things happen in cars — the human body is not engineered to move more than a few miles per hour, so any speed above that has its risks — and all you can do is try to manage those risks as best you can.

    Re: this most recent incident, getting yourself out of the main traffic lanes was a smart move, as bad things happening that you can’t see are likely to happen there. Hopefully, some of the readers have learned from your experience, and it will help them later.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    I think a big take away here is that driving not only involves seeing what’s going on around you, but hearing what’s going on around you. In this case it was your hearing that possibly saved you from another bad situation. Distraction of any kind even a loud stereo can put you in jeopardy, best to avoid it.

    That, or a higher power is just gunning for you

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I wouldn’t be so hard on the tow truck driver. My guess is the Impala guy was driving very aggressively and going much more than 10 mph over the limit. For one thing, that would explain the tow truck driver’s miscalculation of the speed of the Impala–it was too far off the norm. It would also explain the Impala driver’s decision to pull to the left into oncoming traffic instead of right into the curb as is the instinct for most people, including you.

    Impala guy left the scene—I’m guessing revoked license.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      At an uncontrolled intersection or partially controlled intersection such as this one, the traffic moving straight on the major roadway has the right of way over traffic that is turning across it.

      While the Impala driver’s speed may have been a contributing factor, the fault belongs firmly to the vehicle turning left. And those bad turns are often the byproduct of impatience. People die because there are some among us who are unwilling to just wait their turn.

      • 0 avatar
        redav

        That’s still based on assumptions. Likely assumptions, but still assumptions.

        For example, what if the Impala lost control prior to the truck starting its turn? How do we know it wasn’t headed right for the truck, and the truck driver, with intent of avoiding the oncoming car, completed his turn to escape? Then, with the Impala was already headed in that direction, it continued into the oncoming lanes?

        Obviously, this is unlikely, but without evidence, how do we know?

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          Per our humble author, who was (sort of) a witness to the event:

          “The whole sequence of events became clear. Tired/spaced-out/needlessly aggressive tow-truck driver is sick of waiting to turn and he just turns.”

    • 0 avatar
      Lie2me

      “Impala guy left the scene—I’m guessing revoked license.”

      My uncle was recently in an accident, he pulled out in front of an oncoming pick-up truck and had his front end clipped the truck suffered more damage but both were drivable. Totally my uncle’s fault. The driver of the pick-up stopped and rushed to see if my uncle was ok, when my uncle suggested that they contact the police The driver of the pick-up said, “No, no Senior, you ok, I ok, que tengas un buen día (you have a good day)” and he got back into his truck and left

      Pick-up guy left the scene-I’m guessing no green card

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        Another possibility is because the tow truck left the scene and no other cars were impacted, he didn’t see the point in sticking around. He can deal with the police report and insurance company from somewhere that isn’t the side of the road.

    • 0 avatar
      burgersandbeer

      I agree about the Impala driver, but it’s still the tow truck driver’s impatience/mistake that caused the incident. I think they are equally at fault, and if something more serious happened involving another vehicle, I hope they would both get citations.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        They aren’t equally at fault.

        Turning drivers have to yield to straight-on traffic. It’s as simple as that — you wait until it’s your turn to go, and you don’t move prior to that.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          I never said the tow truck didn’t have to yield. I did say the Impala was also driving recklessly (if assumptions of speeding are true) and if he had hit a car in the oncoming lane, he should be held accountable for that.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Right of way goes to traffic going straight.

            Unless the speed contributed to the crash in some way, i.e. the Impala was going so fast that it is understandable that the turning vehicle could not have seen it, the fault goes to the turning vehicle.

            The concept of right of way is that one guy gets to go, while the other one has to wait. This is not really debatable — the law favors the vehicle with the right of way.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The Impala driver was put out of control by the tow truck turning in his path. He was obeying all laws beforehand, as far as we know. If the Impala had hit multiple cars, it still would’ve been the tow truck driver that set off the chain reaction. Drivers have a responsibility to try to avoid an accident, and hopefully not hit anyone or anything in the process, but either way, his slamming of the brakes and skidding out of control was forced by another party’s mistake.

            Had the Impala driver collided with Jack and co, or the Silverado, or both, and there were injuries, it’s unfortunate for anyone, everyone involved, including the Impala driver, but it would still be the tow truck drivers fault.

            End of day, the Impala driver saved the day. As far as we know, he only crossed into the oncoming lane when Jack got out of the way and it was somewhat safe to do so. That’s if he had any control what so ever, and not just along for the ride. Or Jack saved the day, you could say. When you give others room in an emergency, the life you save may be your own.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Impala guy didn’t pursue it because there didn’t seem to be any damage outside of perhaps an alignment and/or he had good reason not to involve the police

      • 0 avatar
        rpn453

        The Impala driver was at-fault for choosing to drive into the oncoming lane. Anything that happened beyond that point was his fault. Anything that happened prior to that becomes irrelevant, because there’s no way to prove that a collision was imminent. The Impala driver may have overreacted to the situation, for all we know. So many times, I’ve seen people ahead of me brake for a safely crossing vehicle, with the brake lights coming on well after the car has already cleared their path, even though they couldn’t have hit the crossing vehicle if they had floored it when it first entered the intersection. I see the same sort of thing happen all the time when I’m walking or cycling as well. If this is how some react to a slow, simple, and inherently safe situation, imagine how they might react to a more complex one. There’s no way to prove who made the error in spatial awareness if there isn’t even any contact.

        The Impala driver should have stayed in his lane and braked in a straight line, only leaving it if he knows with absolute certainty that he can safely take another path. He has a right to that lane, and that lane only. He’s responsible for any consequences of leaving that lane. The tow truck driver is only responsible for the consequences of the Impala driver remaining in his lane.

    • 0 avatar
      Beerboy12

      The truck driver was very much in the wrong. Poor decision or judgment is just not an excuse. However, his sin, severe as it was, is nothing compared to the criminal negligence of the Impala driver. If you are going swerve, make sure the road is clear…

  • avatar
    wmba

    “white guy, blue collar features” ….

    Been wondering about this typecasting for hours. Do faces betray socio-economic status, I wonder?

    Surely not, especially from a fleeting glance and no knowledge of the man’s attire. Google provides no hints about facial features by class so this can be counted as nonsense, I think.

    • 0 avatar
      morbo

      Not necessarily. Fair or not, prejudices exist.

      If I said 30s to 50s, square jaw, clean cut with sharp lines on the haircut or a buzzcut, pressed suit, thin or athletic, the immediate thought is military type, probably command track.

      20s to 30s, unpressed shirt or dirty coveralls, overweight or non-athletic build, unkempt hair, the immediate thought is blue collar slob

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      I can usually guess someone’s income fairly accurately with a glance. Must be from those years selling cars when you had to decide whether you wanted that “up” or not. I’m not always right but I’m more right than a coin flip or a weather-predicting groundhog.

      • 0 avatar
        Sam P

        “I can usually guess someone’s income fairly accurately with a glance.”

        I wonder how you’d do with that in Seattle. I have a couple friends who live here and make over 200k/year in different professions (medicine & software) and often can be found in old jeans & comfortable sweaters/North face fleece.

        On the other hand, I have another local friend who makes probably about 100k per year and has a Rolex, a late model BMW, and is always dressed immaculately. If anything, you’d swear he had a much higher paycheck than the first two guys.

        • 0 avatar
          Jack Baruth

          It’s in the face and the bearing, not the clothing. And, as previously noted, I’m far from always being right.

          To some degree, you can tell if someone’s at least made it to the middle class just by looking in their mouth and seeing how their teeth are doing.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            Exactly! The first thing I was ever taught about sizing someone up economically was to look at their teeth. Rarely will a person of means go around with bad teeth

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            and if they’re twitching and scratching with aggressively rotting teeth while their head snaps back and forth like a chicken they don’t have more than the $20 they’re looking for…

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            My mom has always insisted shoes are at least one significant clue. People with money don’t wear cheap or worn out shoes.

  • avatar
    mies

    It must be crash your Impala week here in Ohio. I was on my way to visit my parents today and the interstates here in Cleveland weren’t clear this morning. I was chugging along, going as fast as the conditions would allow. There was a mid 2000’s electric blue Impala behind me for most of my journey. When I was a few miles from my exit, I noticed the Impala spin out in my rear view mirror. It didn’t look like the driver over corrected or hit his brakes too hard. He just went into a spin, crossed 3 lanes of traffic, and slammed into the right shoulder guard rail. Fortunately, nobody else got tangled up in his mess. I’m guessing by the vintage of his vehicle, he had bald tires.

  • avatar
    areader

    “In a front end collision, however, you’re sitting far forward behind a hood that’s as short as a subcompacts’.”

    This bothered me until I saw the videos of the front crash test. There’s not as much crush space as a pickup, for example, but the driver was well protected. I had a half-ton van and was considering a Suburban, but the video kept me in a van. Just a heavier one with a heavier frame and drive train and hence a lower center of gravity.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I believe, legally speaking, that recklessness trumps negligence. In other words, where the Impala is speeding by say, 15 mph and the tow truck operator carelessly turns in front of the Impala, they are both negligent and depending on the state, they apportion the fault, or neither recovers.

    Where the Impala driver is driving recklessly–I would argue more than 20 mph over the limit might be considered reckless–, then the negligence of the tow truck driver is of no moment. On the criminal side, as opposed to civil, both could be cited depending on the laws of the state.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      4511.42 Right-of-way rule when turning left.

      (A) The operator of a vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley intending to turn to the left within an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway ***shall yield the right of way to any vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley approaching from the opposite direction***, whenever the approaching vehicle, streetcar, or trackless trolley is within the intersection or so close to the intersection, alley, private road, or driveway as to constitute an immediate hazard.

      (B) Except as otherwise provided in this division, ***whoever violates this section is guilty of a minor misdemeanor.*** If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of or pleaded guilty to one predicate motor vehicle or traffic offense, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If, within one year of the offense, the offender previously has been convicted of two or more predicate motor vehicle or traffic offenses, whoever violates this section is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

      That’s the Ohio statute. Other states have similar laws.

      When turning, wait until it is clear. It’s as simple as that. Don’t act based upon a right of way that you do not have.

      • 0 avatar
        05lgt

        PCH, I always appreciate your legal and reality based comments, but “or so close to the intersection, alley, private road, or driveway as to constitute an immediate hazard” seems to leave some grey. If the Impala was at triple digits and nowhere near the intersection (I didn’t look up the road and zoom out to see if that’s possible) the Impala could have seen the tow truck and panic braked for long enough to make a noise for long enough for Jack to hear it, think it through, drive to the side, and then watch the Impala still carry enough speed to hook into the curb. The tow truck still should have stopped, but that doesn’t mean he had any reason to be looking 3 blocks away before turning. It could have been this way; I don’t know, and neither do you.

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          It’s not vague.

          You aren’t supposed to start turning if you can’t safely complete your turn. The oncoming traffic has the right of way.

          This must explain why Americans are pretty good at getting themselves killed on public highways. We must have a lot of licensed drivers who honestly have no idea that they don’t always get to go just because they feel like it.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            Like when they removed Driver’s Education from the schools!

            I cannot judge distance worth a damn, so you might be pi$$ed if you’re stuck behind me turning left across dense traffic. I’ve gotten better over the years, but I still miss (and get an occasional “you’re #1!” at times! :-p

            (Living, and learning to drive, in Ohio, I’ve always wondered WTF a “trackless trolley” is!)

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Sounds like a trolley shaped bus to me.

          • 0 avatar
            sgeffe

            @CoreyDL, I’ve been told that it’s a vehicle as you describe, but which takes its power from overhead lines.

            I’ve also thought that it’s one of those multi-section buses you see in Europe.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            They can be both. Multi-section or not they’re just electric buses that get their power from overhead cables or rails

  • avatar
    gogogodzilla

    I’ve found, in my years driving, that the most important thing is to ensure that the other drivers *KNOW YOU ARE THERE*.

    After all, nobody has ever said, “Yes, I knew the car was there, I just hit it anyway.” No, the car that usually is hit is the one that “wasn’t seen”.

    And I’ve found that using your horn or lights when other drivers look to be inattentive saves you more times than not.

    • 0 avatar
      Pch101

      Being conspicuous is certainly one of the keys to defensive driving.

      It’s also one of the reasons to avoid excessive speed variance and to take care when overtaking. You’re less likely to be seen if your speed differs greatly from the norm.

  • avatar
    areader

    “You think your van could kill someone in an accident, and you’re okay with that?”

    Give it a break. I’m not out there looking for things to hit.

    One more thing. My half ton van was totaled when I hit a large deer. I was beside a semi, my front bumper maybe 20 feet behind his front bumper. The deer just cleared him and nearly made it across in front of me. No time to do anything but watch. I test drove an Odyssey, but just could not get past the image of that deer rolling up the hood and coming through the windshield and taking me out.

    • 0 avatar
      Maymar

      You talk about getting in an accident in a CRX that you and the other driver walk away from, and you mention how you think your current van (which you only seem to talk about having picked for its size to protect you) would have killed the other driver in that accident. How should we interpret that line of thinking?

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Oh , sh*t Jack ;

    I’m sitting here in my cervical collar thinking of driving a bit to – morrow , like you my goose will be cooked if I have even a small hit at this point .

    Glad to hear you and SWMBO are O.K. .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    mjz

    Jack, this unfortunate incident will make you think long and hard about what vehicle your TC replacement should be. What vehicle would BEST protect your fragile bones and the lives of your loved ones from any future wayward Impalas? Perhaps that was a harbinger, to point you in the right direction for your upcoming decision. “Somebody” is trying to tell you “something”, Mr. Baruth…no such thing as a coincidence.

  • avatar
    tedward

    Recovering from a street accident sucks a big one. I feel for you. My only comparable experience stemmed from a rollover in a full size Bronco which had me bouncing between seat cushion and ceiling all the way down a hill. I was a stoic teenager at the time, in the back seat, and the crash ended with me on my feet(!) and pretty much unharmed but it still took months before I stopped pressing the imaginary brake pedal in the passenger floorboard at the slightest sign of trouble. I thought it wouldn’t have a such an impact because I was taking massive unexpected hits all the time in my sports of choice but it wasn’t so. The psychological consequences are extreme.

    Nothing you can do about it (maybe therapy, but I’m too Irish to recommend that), just get back in the saddle and eventually it will fade.

  • avatar
    kkt

    It’s impressive as hell that you were able to tell, just from hearing, where you should go to get out of the way.

  • avatar
    jd418197

    The best advice I can offer: Stay out of Columbus, Ohio. I’ve seen a lot of bad driving, but nothing compares to some of the things I’ve seen in and around that SOB town.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States