By Dr. Myatt
Well, that was more excitement than I bargained for when I took a friend to lunch. I’m alright, thanks for asking, but the car was totaled.
We took Cindy’s Volkswagen Jetta because she "just loves this car" and wanted me to ride in it. Nice car. Nice lunch.
On the way home, as we slowed to make a right turn, we heard a loud "pop" and the car stopped moving. "What happened?" she asked me. "We just got hit" I diagnosed.
Sure enough, a big delivery truck had rear-ended her lovely little car. Our seatbelts and the car both worked well to protect us and we did not seem to have any injuries. I say "seem" because "whiplash," a strain-sprain of the back and neck muscles, and MTBI — mild traumatic brain injury— can occur in such accidents even when people appear to be OK.
The vehicle that hit us was a "box truck," a good-sized delivery vehicle – perhaps a 1-ton truck.
It’s front grill was 16 feet behind the wreck, so it had pushed us some distance when it hit. Everything happened so fast, I didn’t realized we were pushed.
The Jetta’s trunk was crushed into the back seat, the back window shattered.
My friend and I, and the young man who hit us, were all able to get out of the vehicles. No one was bleeding, no broken bones.
The traffic was light when we were hit. We were doing about 15 miles per hour and the lane we were in was clear when we pulled into it. I don’t know where the truck came from.
I asked the driver what he was doing that he hadn’t seen us. "I dunno; I was looking down and when I looked up…"
Ahh. "DWI" — Driving While Inattentive. Probably texting or messing with a cell phone is my guess. Cell phone use is a more common cause of vehicle accidents today than drunk driving. And since more people yak on a cell phone while driving than drive while drunk, cell phone use represents a major cause of motor vehicle accidents.
So, Cindy is getting a new car; another Jetta I’m betting. That little car did just what it was supposed to do - it gave it’s life to protect us. But every good story has a moral, and here’s mine with a bonus extra.
One: Always wear your seat belt. We likely would have sustained serious injury being impacted that hard without our belts.
Two: HANG UP AND DRIVE – the life you save might be your own! (or mine)
On that note, please watch this brief but important "crash" experiment.
Strayer, D. L., Drews, F. A., and Crouch, D. L. A comparison of the cell phone driver and the drunk driver. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, 2006 (Summer), 381-391; University of Utah.
Pickrell, T. M. (2014, February). Driver Electronic Device Use in 2012. (Traffic Safety Facts Research Note. Report No. DOT HS 811 884). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
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