Saturday, December 17, 2005

Multi-Stage Airbags Work Well

Last Sunday evening I personally experienced a multi-stage airbag deployment. It did it's job without the attendant minor injuries often associated with airbag deployments. I thank the Lord that he was watching over us that evening.

A business colleague and I were driving to Morgantown, WV. It was snowing and the interstate was untreated and snow covered. I was doing ~30 mph on a downhill grade in the left hand lane when a small pickup headed the other direction lost control, slid across the median, clipped the vehicle in front of us and spun directly into our path. We hit it head-on.

Everyone was OK. My passenger and I ended up with bumps and bruises, nothing serious. The car, a rented Pontiac G6, was totaled. The front end was crushed to the front wheels. The hood and fenders were also folded back. The passenger compartment was intact except the passenger window shattered and the front doors were hard to open.

The Monongahela Sheriff's deputy that responded to our accident was very good: He went above and beyond the call of duty. He took control of the situation. He checked all the vehicles and occupants, got flares out to redirect traffic and had tow trucks on the way in short order. He let us sit in his vehicle out of the weather because ours was not safe to be in. Once he had taken statements from everyone and the accident was cleaned up he gave us a lift to our hotel, which he didn't have to do.

On the other hand I saw some real idiots that evening. The driver who caused it for one. I guess he had to be going at least 45-50 MPH to come uphill all the way across median ditch like he did. If he hadn't hit the vehicle in front of us he probably would have slid all the way across our lanes into the guardrail, and likely would have missed us. His pickup ended up across both lanes of the interstate with traffic creeping by in the breakdown lane. He was clearly driving too fast for conditions, and was driving with a suspended license. We thought they would lock him up for the evening, but the second officer at the accident just ticketed him and let him go because they were too busy.

The second idiot of the night came whipping through the accident site at 45 MPH or so 15 or 20 minutes after the accident. He clipped the front of the pickup, maybe hit the guardrail, did a couple of 180's and 360's, and ended up sideways half in the median about 150-200 yards down the road from us. He drove off before the deputy could get down to where he was. This was after flares had been put out at the site, but the road was still snow covered. There was also another accident about a mile behind us that should have slowed him up.

Everything appears to be working out OK. Avis had another car to us by the next afternoon and my company insurance will cover everything. Airbags and seatbelts will be important considerations in the next vehicle I buy.

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