posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:01 PM
I am not sure this is the right subforum for this topic, but I trust someone can move it if that seems more appropriate.
I was involved in a car accident in 2003, in which the airbags of the car I was riding in deployed. There were no deaths, and no (as far as I know)
permanent injuries sustained in this accident. So quite a "happy ending", compared to many other car accidents. The thing that has started to bother
me a bit is that my experience seems to be somewhat anomalous from what I have been able to gather through the years. I will relate my (subjective)
experience below in the hope that someone can add their own experiences and perhaps other insights.
The car we were driving was a Volvo S80 sedan, which I believe was a 2000 model (I am not quite sure about this but can probably get the exact model
if it seems significant). I was in the front passenger seat and my brother in law was driving. We practice driving on the right hand side, so I was to
the right of the drivers position. The accident happened on a stretch of road that had a speed limit of 80 km/h (about 50 mph) and we were driving at
a little above the speed limit, I think around 90 km/h (about 56 mph).
The accident happened when an oncoming car (a small Ford Focus I think) suddenly, and with no warning, swerved into our lane and we hit it in the
passenger side. We later learned that the driver was trying to avoid some pedestrians which he thought he saw. There was little time to do anything,
but my brother in law managed to brake for about a second or so. We looked at the skid marks and found that they were between 2-2,5 meters (6,5-8,2
feet). I have no estimate for the speed of the other car, but as he was skidding sideways when we hit him, his speed was possibly a good deal lower.
During the collision our car moved the other car a bit in our direction of travel.
The front of the Volvo buried itself in the Focus as far as the midconsole, and the passenger seat in the Focus (which was thankfully unccupied) was
upside down in the car, up in the roof of the cabin. The Volvo was totally wrecked up to the passenger compartment (as it is designed to be I
believe), and both cars where later written of as unsalvagable. So, there was qute a bit of force involved.
My experience of the crash itself was kind of stretched out. I remember seeing the car coming, lifting my arms to protect my head and curling my body
somewhat by lifting up my knees and tensing all my muscles (this was instinctive). Then there was the loudest bang I have ever heard and a feeling
(and this is what is so strange) a feeling of falling into the softest down bedding one can imagine. I never saw the airbag, of course, and I
never felt anything hitting me in any way. Just this feeling of incredible softness. I think this was all over in less than two seconds, but it seemed
to stretch out a lot longer.
When I opened my eyes I thought the car was on fire because there was a lot of smoke, but we soon realised that this was from the airbags. I never saw
the airbag other than in a deflated state. My brother in law sustained a large scratch from the airbag catching his wristwatch, but other than that we
were both unhurt. The first scratch I received was from the IV that they inserted into my arm at the hospital later on. The driver of the other car
was unconcious but got off whith a few broken ribs and a concussion, which is perhaps even more astonishing as he was not even wearing his seatbelt
and the drivers wheel looked like a figure 8.
What I have been able to gather from reading and talking to other people, nobody has described this feeling of "falling into softness" like I
experienced. I have therefore started to wonder if this is a bit atypical?
These are the factors that I have recognised as significant:
1) The car we were driving had some pretty sophisticated security features built in, most notably the airbags, automatic seatbelt tighteners. a front
designed to collapse on impact and a security wall between the engine department and the cabin.
2) We hit the other car in its side, which contributed to "cushion" the impact somewhat, as the other car also folded inwards.
3) The other car was skidding and hitting us sideways (actually jumping/skipping sideways according to the tire marks)
4) The Volvo had the larger mass of the two cars involved, which lessened the impact forces acting on us.
5) My instinctive "curl up into a ball" reaction probably made it possible for me to "roll" backwards (as the seatbelt tightened)
6) The speed might have been lower due to our car braking - I have no way to establish this (although the stopping distance for 90 km/h is about 40
meters on dry asphalt and we didn't travel more than 2 to perhaps 3 meters at the most before impact).
Well, people of ATS, I realise not everyone will have taken part in a traffic accident, but there must be someone I suspect? "Falling into a soft
down bed" much, anyone? Perhaps the engineering and technical crowd might chime in as well on the reasons it might feel that way?
I have read a lot of other descriptions and they vary from "punched in the face" to "felt nothing at all". So it will be interesting to hear what
others think it felt like.