Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Random Car Crash

I witnessed a car crash the other day. A single car lost control and wrecked, without hitting anyone else, in dense traffic.

There is a bunch of new roadwork being done on the freeway I use to get to work. I hear they're extending the HOV lane, which is a good thing. As it is right now, there is a nasty bottleneck just before the HOV lane opens up. It's kind of fun because I get to accelerate hard when I finally reach the HOV lane, but losing the bottleneck would be more fun overall.

Anyway, the road has been squeezed down until there is just room for three lanes. Traffic gets bunched up pretty tight because 98% of drivers on the road don't understand how to merge.

I was riding in the center lane behind a black Chrysler 300 and very much looking forward to enjoying the thermos full of coffee I had in my courier bag. In the right lane, just barely ahead of the Chrysler was a white compact car of some variety.

I couldn't see the driver of the white car, so I don't know if he/she was on the phone, drinking coffee or fiddling with the radio. However, I did see him (we'll assume it was a guy for ease of writing) turn on his left turn signal and start drifting towards the center lane. He was NOT far enough ahead of the Chrysler to actually change lanes without giving us all a basic physics demonstration (two objects cannot occupy the same space at the same time). He noticed at the last second that he was about to damage a car a whole bunch more expensive than his, and abruptly swerved back into his own lane.

Which is where things went all to Hell.

His dramatic swerve sent him hurtling towards the breakdown lane. Naturally, he did the thing people do when they panic and over-corrected. His over-correction was enough to break his back tires loose, and he started fishtailing in perfect weather on a clean road.

Frankly, I was impressed.

He continued over-correcting, and the fishtail got worse and worse until he'd spun all the way around. At this point, his car careened into a concrete barrier on the right side of the road. It made a mighty crunching sound, and sent car parts flying across the road. Parts I had to dodge.

Incredibly enough, his car was still spinning around at this point. Traffic had not yet stopped, and I found myself faced with flying car fragments and a newly-bashed, white, compact car sliding towards me.

I didn't really have time to think, but swerved left and grabbed a big handful of throttle to get away and past the car.

Luckily, it worked. I managed to avoid the tumbling, scattered car parts AND the still-mobile wreck.

So far as I could tell, everyone else managed to avoid his sphere of destruction. I would love to know what happened, exactly, to cause that crash. I'm going to leave it in the "doesn't know how to operate vehicle at speed" category for now.