Honda Civic Car Wreck
EBTX gets rear-ended

his past Friday night at about 11:55PM as I was going home from work ... I got rear-ended while waiting at a stop light. Didn't see it coming at all. No sound ... just the fury. What a smack. I've never been so throttled in my life. Fortunately, she hit me square and I was thrown straight back into my seat. Thanks to old legislation, my head hit the headrest and prevented possibly terminal whiplash. I always thought that I would "see it coming" but ... I saw nothing ... I heard nothing coming ... just watch traffic light, listen to radio then ... Whack!. No tread marks were left at the scene, i.e. she didn't use her brakes.

Two young people were following this "drunk" (they thought) and had called 911 to report the danger. The cops were on the way to intercept the drunk car when she hit me. So, I had police there instantly (or within about 20 seconds) .. and ... "on the spot" witnesses. It turned out to be a 70 year old woman ... sober ... but somehow incapacitated ... perhaps by age. Why she was on the road, I don't know. When I was able to get out of the car, the cop was there and gave me the story and I said, "Well, I stopped her for ya". It was a small pickup truck ... a dodge Dakota I think the cop said. It was probably about the same weight as my Honda Civic ... around 2500 pounds. (Wrong - it was around 3800 pounds)

There was very little damage to her pickup truck but my Civic is totalled with the back end all crushed in to the rear wheels. Below, is a rollover diagram and some pics.

Honda Wreck

My ass end at the police impound yard. I tried to take a pic at the scene with my old "on-board" camera but there wasn't enough light at midnight.

The crush extended the duration of the acceleration so I didn't get hurt as bad as I might have. Thank you Honda engineers. Also, the gas tank did not rupture thanks to engineering foresight (as mandated by law). The driver seat got bent back from about 60o to about 30o and this gave me some more "crush space" too.

There was some minor damage to the front end from hitting the trees at about 5-10 mph (the air bag didn't deploy). You might ask why I didn't stop the car with the brakes which were still operable. Well, I did. And I consciously tried to steer away form an electrical "stump" next to where I came to rest (fearing a gas leak). However, a little known fact presented itself to me just then.

When you get your ass kicked too much ... your brain shuts down to some extent. I told my foot to press the brake and thought it did ... but it didn't. I told my hands to steer the car a little right ... but they didn't. I was just physically paralyzed. I wasn't afraid at all ... no time for that. I just got hit and thought "Uh-oh that's the end of this car" and a couple seconds later I'm eatin' bark.

I got back motor control within 10 seconds of impact ... undid my seat belt ... and got out of the car checking to see if I was in anyway "broken". I felt like I had just finished 5 hours of hard overtime and leaned on the car ... real tired ... no heart speedup and no sweat and no emotional upset ... just real tired. Disoriented but with no anger or agression toward the other driver ... nothing. I answered the Grand Prairie police questions ...
"You got a weapon in the car?" ... "No" ... ??!!

I couldn't sleep much that night so I spent my time figuring out how many G's I got. Do the math here. I went about 100-120 feet in maybe 4-5 seconds. I figure I was going about 25 mph initially. So, she must have hit me at about 25 mph (not too bad compared to say, 50). I got maybe two feet of crush space from the trunk and one foot from the seat bending back ... sooooooo .... I (my head) accelerated to 25mph in 3 feet.

25 mph = 25/60 x 88 (ft/sec) = ~37 feet per second. To uniformly accelerate (my head) to that speed in three feet, I would need ... hmmmmm ... let's see ... 1 G is 32 feet per second after 16 feet of travel ... so ...


d=1/2 at2 ... hmmm ... well, I think about 1/7 of a second was the time here because going from 0 to 25 uniformly means about 12.5 mph on average and 12.5 is about 18 feet per second and three feet of that would require about 1/6 of a second ... and three feet is an approximation which is probably a bit high. I think it would be maor like 2.5 feet ... so let;s make it ... hmmm ... 1/8 of a second?
so, 3=1/2 a 1/64
then ...
a = 3x2x64 = 384 ft /sec2
384/32= 12 Gs for 1/8 of a second.
If it was as long as 1/7 of a second,
a = 3x2x49 = 294 ft/sec2 = ~9 Gs for 1/7 seconds
So, anyway I cut it ... it's in the 10G range for a fraction of a second.

There is another problem ...

The derivative of velocity with respect ot time is acceleration. So ... the slope of the curve represents that acceleration.

meters/sec divided by seconds = m/sec2 ... which is acceleration

Most accelerations are not uniform especially in the case of non-uniform objects like cars. They give, then they resist and give again depending on the stiffness of the metal, etc. Now, the integral of velocity with respect to time is distance as in ...

m/sec x seconds = meters

This corresponds to the area under the curve (blue color). So that area can have a different shape yet retain the same area and so the vehicle can be subjected to variations in accelerations and still stop accelerating over the identical distance as a simple uniform acceleration.

The reason I bring this up, is that my work shirt pocket had a 1 inch tear in it where I had a metallic case for reading glasses. It didn't weigh much yet, when its clip caught in my shirt ... rather than just staying there ... it ripped itself right out !! This is mysterious to me. For that clip to actually tear it would have to have been subjected to a far graeter accelaration than a mere 10 Gs. Visualize the case caught on the shirt and hanging upside down (1G). It wouldn't fall out ... it would just stick there. But if I hung another ten pounds of weight on the case, it just might rip the shirt (100Gs? over one inch in 1/100 of a second?!). But the acceleration would have to be so enourmous that I am inclined to think that it ripped maybe when I hit the tree and maybe the seat belt caught it and pulled it free. But this doesn't quite make any sense because all the stuff in my pocket ended up in the back seat floor area! (by way of its inertia).

Honda Civic is good engineering

Fundamentally this was the best car I ever owned. It never left me stranded. There were no major repairs at all. I didn't even have to replace the muffler and I had the thing for five years and 115,000 miles. I replaced one headlight. The driver side rear window failed to operate ... that's about it from the mechanical viewpoint. Other costs were for gas, oil changes, and a few tires ... and brakes for the front end (or was it the back?).

On the downside, the interior was made of the shodiest materials I have ever had in a new car. The roof cloth detached and I stuck it back with a glue stick. The window visors covering was falling apart revealing torn foam rubber backing and was embarrassing. The visor mirrors just fell off after about four years. Cloth trim on the doors came loose and the steering wheel cover separated and was getting real funky by flaking off pieces of rubber after the thin vinyl cover wore away.

The seats seemed consciously designed to inflict pain on the driver and passengers. I would say that they were "ergonomically designed" ... to cause pain. I think this is no mistake but a conscious decision by the business executives to get people to upgrade to a more expensive model. I'll bet that the engineers at Honda have a war going on over the bad direction that the executives are steering the company in. They have a rep for quality and now the execs are ruining it everywhere they can to "cash in" ... no doubt ... on the engineer's good rep.

We solved the seat pain problem by putting a pillow behind our backs (for lumbar support) and installing very soft seat covers. With that, the seats became almost normal. But they can never compare to the seats that I had in my '85 Dodge Omni which were soft, wide and very comfortable over long distances. Even the high priced cars have inferior seats. I believe that even a Lexus would have inferior seats. Imagine that ... the cheap seats win out. The pauper has a better seat than the millionaire ... what a hoot!

I am happy that I ...

  1. Didn't buy a new car two or three months ago ;o)
  2. Didn't buy gas before going to work ... figured I get it on the way to WalMart ;o) = $20
  3. Didn't get an oil change last week ... I was going to put it off till next Monday ;o) = $25
  4. Didn't get the rear bumper ding fixed or the tailight ... I just put red plastic over it ;o) = $400
  5. Didn't bite on the full tune up they suggested ... I just procrastinated ;o) $800
  6. Didn't have a new timing chain installed ... figured it would last another year ;o) $800
  7. Didn't replace the dollar bill in the left hand storage cup for entering the airport ;o) $1
So, I saved about $2046 by simply procrastinating. I guess I can just "Edith Piaf" the whole thing ...

"I regret nothing"

Except for the minor pain, sleep problems, incovenience and possible extra costs incurred, like ...
  1. rental car - small Chevy SUV for $226 per week
  2. $318 for X-rays of neck and lower back
  3. Police impound yard & towing $165 + 16+ per day.
  4. Police report $6
... if ... US LLOYDS Insurance Company doesn't pay up (small company in Hurst, TX) ... so far, they don't return my calls ... busy ... on other line ... out to lunch ... well, I'm waiting for that call back about three hours now. I got the police report today ... she got 100% of the blame of course. I noticed a couple minor discrepancies on that report but that wouldn't change the conclusion. Their diagram looked just about like mine too. No mention was made of the two young witnesses or the fact that they had called about a possible drunk driver ... and I didn't get their names :o(

I will report any further progress here.


Contacted US Lloyds again on Friday 9/29. I hadn't heard from them since Monday. They didn't know me. Apparently, whomever I talked to Monday 9/25 didn't write anything down. So, I gave all the info and got a claim number from them. I hope to resolve this as quickly as possible ... without any lawyer. We'll see ...

Addendum: 09/28/06

I found on the net that it is possible to get 40gs over a short period in a collision. In fact, 80 gs are registered in frontal crash tests. So, I guess my pocket was ripped by my reading glasses w/case as it stuck on the shirt and went sailing over my left shoulder. It must not have been a uniform acceleration (no surprise here).

Anyway, as of five days later, I am feeling almost back to normal except for a little stiffness in the shoulders and sleep problems ( I got 4-12-1.5-10-5 hours sleep over the past five days (not too consistent). My neck muscles hurt about three days after the unfortunate event but are feeling OK today. I noticed I also got a bruise on my right shin undoubtedly from that foot being on the brake peddle and being thrown up and back ... then back down on the peddle again. This is probably what caused me to hit the trees at about 5-10 mph instead of 25.

As I try to settle with the insurance company, I thought of a new way to settle such issues without a lawyer and do it fairly to all parties. I call it the

75% solution
. (Very likely it's not a new idea but I thought of it independently a couple nights ago when I couldn't sleep.) Click the link and see if you can spot any logical flaws.

Addendum: 11/17/06

Yesterday, I received a final check for $1823 from Standard Insurance. This is the settlement for injuries sustained, bills paid,etc. It's been a long time coming. I initially thought that the whole process should take no more than a week or two at most. Dream on !!
  Dealing with the insurance company was like standing on the edge of a big clearing and thinking, "It should take me about an hour to cross this" ... then ... you walk out and find yourself chest deep in mud under the dry crusty surface. You slog through this and weeks later arrive at the expected destination. Mind you ... I did this without a lawyer who would have charged me 40% for the privilege of having him suck my blood. I don't advocate using a lawyer unless there are hundreds of thousands of dollars at stake and the insurance company wants to pay you only tens of thousands. In other words, DIY unless the differential is in the hundreds of thousands ... or ... you'll get screwed twice over instead of only once.
  I got a total of $7800 for the entire thing (~$6000 for car - blue book value) when I thought (after much reflection) that $8000 to $10,000 would have been fair. I wasn't too far off, eh? I guess their idea of fair is somewhat less than mine ... who woulda' thought? ;o)
  My general opinion still stands ... the insurance industry needs to be expunged from civilization. It's just not a viable business model in a free society. This is properly a government job ... now ... if ... we ... could ... just ... get ... a ... decent ... government ...