According to the Offaly Historical and Archeological Society, the first car accident that resulted in a death was in Ireland in 1869, when Mary Ward was thrown from a steam-powered car and fell under the wheels. This accident led automobile makers to start keeping safety in mind as they designed cars. There have been many horrible car crashes throughout history and each one has a valuable lesson it can teach us. Below we will explore some of the worst car crashes and what we can learn from them.
In 2008, an accident occurred on a highway in Dubai after several speeding drivers rear-ended the vehicles in front of them. This small miscalculation triggered a chain of events that caused a massive pile-up that set fire to over 90 vehicles and damaged even more. The exact number is unknown. Four people were killed and another 300 were injured.
This unfortunate accident could have been avoided if the drivers had been aware of the three-second rule, which states you should be three-seconds behind the car in front of you. To determine this distance, find a fix object on the side of the road, such as a tree or posted sign. Start counting to three once the car in front of you passes this landmark. This will determine if you are a safe distance away from the car in front of you. When driving at night or in inclement weather, double this to the six-second rule.
Interstate 5 Dust Storm
A massive and powerful dust storm tore across Interstate 5 near Coalinga, California in 1991. The storm created a dust cloud that made the road invisible to drivers caught in its wake. This created the worst pile-up in California’s history—164 cars were involved. In the aftermath, 17 people had died and 150 more were seriously injured.
This particular incident was a quick and severe dust storm, which the motorists could’ve done very little to avoid. The rescuers determined the drivers were not at fault and the accidents were due strictly to poor visibility. David Bernstein, lawyer and contributing writer for The Legal Examiner, suggests that drivers should never drive in conditions that create poor visibility. This includes smoke, fog and dust storms. Bernstein recommends that you pull over immediately and get as far away from busy roads as possible. Installing fog lights can also help enhance your visibility when situations are not dire enough to warrant pulling over. Fog lights can be found at www.partsgeek.com.
Million Dollar Pile-Up
A convoy of high-end supercars was driving to Hiroshima in 2011 for a car enthusiast convention. The convoy included Mercedes, Ferrari and Lamborghini automobiles. It is believed the convoy was driving well above the posted speed limit of 50 miles-per-hour. One of the drivers in the convoy tried to change lanes without checking his blind spot and was involved in a minor collision that sent his vehicle into the median and catalyzed a 14-vehicle pile-up. Every car was totaled. The damage was estimated to be roughly $3.85 million. Miraculously, nobody died or experienced any serious injuries.
The primary lesson to be learned from this accident is to be aware of your surroundings at all times. If the driver had been more aware of his blind spot the accident could have been avoided. Automobile companies offer specialized mirrors and collision detection systems to help avoid these types of misjudgments.
High Speed Enzo
In October 2005, a 41-year-old driver lost control of his Ferrari Enzo while traveling at 160 miles-per-hour, more than double the posted limit. The car was torn to shreds and the driver lost his life. The car itself was barely recognizable and was scattered all over the freeway.
From this accident we see speed limits are not arbitrary numbers to be ignored. They exist for our own safety. According to the Michigan Department of Transportation, speed limits are determined based on the speed at which 85 percent of vehicles travel, taking into account the average speed a vehicle can safely travel. Using this data along with engineering principles, speed limits found to be reasonable and safe for drivers are created to keep the roadway safe.
Learn From History
In his book Reason in Common Sense, the author George Santayana said, “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it”. This is especially true when it comes to car crashes. We can learn lessons from these unfortunate car accidents so that we do not repeat them.
About the Author:
Bertram Radford is a holistic health therapist and car enthusiast. He melds these two worlds together to create what he believes is the key to a happy and satisfying life: holistic healing at 60 miles-per-hour.