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Had a Wreck Yesterday with the Whole Family on Board...

Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by 350350, Nov 6, 2004.

  1. 350350

    350350 1/2 ton status

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    OK, I know this is another "350350 Novel", but I welcome any input on the Crashtest Information, as what I see on the net is for the most part conflicting, and what I find at work is mostly what I have written below... With the side front impact testing done with a 'skid' being designed to simulate a vehicle of the same size and weight, which also crushes the same as the vehicle it hits. Why they don't just use TWO of the same vehicle, I can't guess. The expense to do these tests is phenominal anyway, and adding the cost of another vehicle wouldn't even dent the cost anyway... So here goes...

    Among the many things that the Rigdons have going on these days, today we were blessed with the honor of having a fairly major T-Bone car accident. All of us, in our Van. All of us, OK. Van, OK. But first let me tell you a bit about the background of this particular babbling email...

    I work in the automotive industry, and I am a GearHead. I have walked miles of junkyards, and I have seen pages and pages of consumer reports and statistics on how 'safe' minivans and other new vehicles are compared to the 'old' cars which were designed before crush zones and air bags. I've seen both ends of the spectrum, and I've crashed all sorts of vehicles in all sorts of manners. I've rolled them, crashed them into other cars, I've been in demolition derbies, I've wrapped them around telephone poles, I've barrel-rolled them, I've end-o'd them. I've even split them nearly in half. Stayed in them and been thrown from them. Wearing seatbelts and without. I'd like to think of myself as a pretty damned good source of first hand crash test data when it comes to wrecking vehicles, both from doing it myself and from studying it throughout my career.

    However, my own experiences tend not to agree with what the consumer reports, well, report. If you walk through any junkyard, and look at any 1972 Impala, Buick, Cadillac, 1988 G20 Chevy Van, 1974 Lincoln, etc., which has been in a wreck of any kind, take a look at where the occupants of the vehicle were sitting when the car came to rest (assuming the occupants were wearing their seatbelts...) and I can bet you'll see that they had plenty of room for all appendages and most importantly their heads remained in plenty of room to not be damaged, and even in the worst of wrecks they probably walked away with only bruises. Especially the Full Size Chevy Vans from the early 1970's to about 1994, which is what we've driven for years due to the fact that I want my family wrapped in 7,000 pounds of steel should they, as they did today, be in a wreck with any other vehicle on the road. My deepest apologies if you drive a 2,500 pound car and I am that ogre that shreds your car in an accident... I never said that life was fair... I pay for this safety every time I pull up to a gas pump... but I consider it a small price to pay to insure my family's safety, in spite of the fact that if you look up a 1992 Chevrolet G20 Van in Consumer Reports, it will undoubtedly tell you that the Van is not a very good vehicle to be in should you stumble into a head on collision. I beg to differ based on those I have seen in the junkyards, as well as the one I was in today.

    My opinion on why the reports are flawed is based around two major things... 1) The major testing that is used to primarily rate vehicles is the front side impact testing, which is a 40mph impact of the vehicle head on, only it is offset with an 'improvised' dummy vehicle of equal size and weight, so it is basically a test of two exact vehicles hitting each other with the drivers meeting eye to eye. The first flaw in this test is that you're only testing the vehicle against a vehicle of equal size. So if your minivan only weighs 3,000 pounds, it gets tested against a 3,000 pound test car, not a 6,000 pound Expedition which you are more likely to get pounded with in the real world. Therefore your minivan fares much better in the test than it would in real life. In my opinion, they should test them all against a brick wall, and therefore have a standard by which to measure them all against. So the smaller your car is, the better it reports in the testing, because the less mass it hit in the test. The bigger your vehicle, the worse it tests, because it hits a bigger mass in the tests. If they tested them all against a brick wall, the smaller cars would fail miserably, as they show me in the junkyard, and the larger vehicles would show me what they show me in the junkyard as well, much better passenger success rates. But nobody knows that when they go to they read consumer reports, they just see the '5 star safety rating' without really knowing what the rating means at all... And nobody goes to the junkyards to actually study for themselves, they just believe what they read blindly... And now onto 2) The offset front impact is a good test in that it is accurate in what many crashes are like- they are rarely full frontal impacts, they are usually offset impacts and that's why the testing is done offset. And this is why front wheel drive vehicles such as minivans do well in these specialized tests... their transverse (cross-wise, tire-to-tire) mounted engine and transmission absorb and transmit a great deal of the impact from the collision and do great in the offset side impact testing... Where a front engine, rear wheel drive vehicle does NOT do well because the side impact misses the engine, and most of the impact is absorbed by a single frame rail rather than the entire body, and/or the powertrain, and the vehicle shreds all the way up to the driver. However, if the vehicle is in a FULL frontal impact, both rails are impacted, the engine is impacted, the entire drivetrain is impacted, the rear differential even plays a part, the rear differential mounts take part of the impact, and the larger, front engine, rear wheel drive vehicle are far superior in a full frontal impact than many of the other vehicles on the market. Again, I can say this from first hand experience. If you don't believe me, find a local junkyard that will let you walk the yard, and do your own investigation. Imagine where your children would have been sitting in the wrecks, and imagine which vehicles you would want to own... Then try to figure out why the reports and '5 star safety ratings' don't match up to what you see with your own two eyes...

    So, on to today. We drive a 1992 Chevrolet G20 High Top Conversion Van. It's 7,000 pounds on a dry day empty. It gets about 12mpg with the A/C blasting, A/C off, packed with people and groceries or completely empty... It runs 19.01 in the 1/4 mile and will run 85mph for days on end with no problems. The reasons we have chosen it as our 'Family Truckster' are countless, but the number one reason is that it wraps my family with 7,000 pounds of steel in the event of collision with another object, mobile or otherwise. It has its down sides. It's difficult to park, it has countless blindspots. It also has some great features. It is as comfortable to ride in as our living room. It has a bed large enough for a 6' tall man to sleep comfortably. It has captain's chairs for 4, with room in the back for 3 Beagles and Luggage. It has a TV, DVD Player, and VCR. It has an AM/FM Cassette Player and CD Player. It has a TBI 350, TH700R4, and a 3.42 rear end.. It has a Flowmaster 3" single inlet, dual 2.25" outlet muffler with 2.25" duals out the rear of the driver's side just behind the rear wheel. It will smoke its 255/60-15 tires, and sound cool doing it!!! It may not be blindingly fast, but for its size and weight, it certainly runs good and will get around in traffic at a reasonable rate of speed. I am certain I have had it well over 100mph many times, although its speedometer stops at 85mph.

    Well, recently we have been contemplating replacing it. It has been a bit combersome to get around in it here in Virginia, with all of the hills and winding roads, as its high center of gravity makes it very un-sportscar-like! But we have always loved having the luxury of the space inside a full size van, no time more than now with two young'ns... We have considered recently an Astro Van, which somehow in my mind does not qualify as a minivan because it is a front engine and rear wheel drive configuration, it is a bit larger than most minivans, and its powertrain and suspension are familiar to me due to its shared componentry with the S10 platform, which I know inside and out. But all of the options we have considered are of course smaller and lighter, with the possible exception of a Tahoe, which would certainly fare better in crash than the other options we have considered.

    I think today was a sign to us that we should either keep the Van, albeit with its 150,000 mile stretch going it may be time to spend some preventative money on it, or should we decide to replace it, we may simply replace it with another very similar to it... You see, today an elderly couple in a new Jeep Grand Cherokee decided at the last minute to make a left turn directly in front of us, and though it was completely their fault, the configuration of the intersection's signals makes it a bit understandable... Angela was driving, and we were probably doing about 35-40 in a 35mph zone, in normal to heavy traffic, two lanes in both directions, close lanes with no center divider, nowhere to go except straight ahead and hope to stop in time, and the kids were in the rear, or center captain's chairs watching TV, or Hot Wheels Highway 35 World Race to be exact, and I saw the whole thing unfold from the very back seat, not buckled in myself I might add... Although not illegal in Virginia, I should have had my seat belt on, but it goes to show even further how much the Van cuts its path and moves whatever is in its way rather than toss its passengers about. Anyway, when I saw the Cherokee take its path to certain destruction, I went limp, as I always do when I know I am about to be in a vehicle collision, and watched everything. I first looked up to see that our light was, in fact, completely green, two greens in fact, one for both lanes, ours and the lane next to us. I looked down to see the Cherokee hesitate for a split second, but he was facing having his front clip removed at this point, then gunned it to try to escape us, and at this point Ang locked up all 4 on the Van, and we screeched toward the Cherokee with nose down, and at this point I looked down at both children in front of me to make sure they were not flying forward at the limits of their child seat harnesses. Both were reclined significantly for comfortable TV viewing, which I believe contributed to their stable condition, even at full 4-wheel-brake-lock, as they were still seated snugly down in their seats, not shooting forward as I thought they would be. I looked back up just in time to see the final collision. It was that sickening crunch that you never want to hear, and from inside I was sure that the Van would be totaled, because once that age, a conversion van is totaled even if the repair is $1500, since any special parts order will total it completely. I was sure the frame stubs in front would be bent down, because we really punted this Cherokee as we squarely T-Boned his rear quarter panel. I insisted that we sit at the end of our skid marks until the cops got there, as I knew we were in the right and wanted to make sure the cop saw our position in the lights, I did not see the front of the van until a bit later. It should also be noted that this was literally 10 minutes after I got up off of the Vasectomy Table, and I was not supposed to be moving around at all. Now I had to get out and handle all this, as Ang was so shook up she was shaking, Sophie was crying and needed Ang's attention, Ezra wanted to get out and see all the dents, and there were witnesses that I needed to corral so that we would not lose our ass in the settlement.

    But my whole point is this: From 40mph, we probably dropped to 30mph before hitting the Cherokee, and we whomped it good... I couldn't see if it got sideways or not, but I can tell you this... The van will quote a variety of parts for its repair from a body shop: Fender, grill, headlights, turn signal lights, bumper, bumper mounts, and paint. However, what I will do is then keep that check, and replace the grill and headlights myself, the small ding in the fender will be barely noticeable as it already had a small ding in it anyway, and the dent in the bumper is also very small and will not be replaced. So our G20 van took a hit and broke out an edge of the plastic grill, one headlight, dented the bumper and fender a bit, and that's it. The Grand Cherokee? Cracked/bent the rear wheel, ripped the fender/wheel opening plastic off, smashed in the entire rear quarter panel from the rear door all the way back to the tailgate, and did enough to the sidewall of the tire that I'm sure they will replace it as well... Aside from the difference in damage, the passengers of our vehicle were not even jostled, Ezra's chocolate milk (with plastic snap lid) did not get thrown from his child seat cup holder, I was not thrown from my seat as I was not wearing my seatbelt, and Sophie didn't even start to cry until we had been sitting still a few minutes without Mom coming back to get her out of her seat... It's the age old 7,000 pounds vs. 4,500 pounds... The laws of physics just can't be denied no matter how you skew your '5 star safety test' ratings, how you engineer your crumple zones, no matter how you draw the charts... I'll be sticking with a full size Chevy Van for the foreseeable future. You can believe what you read, I'll believe what I see.

    /forums/images/graemlins/thinking.gif /forums/images/graemlins/dunno.gif /forums/images/graemlins/doah.gif /forums/images/graemlins/doah.gif /forums/images/graemlins/dunno.gif /forums/images/graemlins/thinking.gif
     
  2. 70jimmy

    70jimmy 3/4 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    Size matters!!!
    This is why I drive what I do. Now the wife is leaning toward an SUV instead of the Dodge Stratus she has. I will pay more at the pump for my family's safety. It also is easier for my dog to fit. Its a boxer that is very spoiled. As someone who covers crashes for a living I can tell you its far better to be in a larger, better constructed vehicle than a small one made out of plastic.

    When I bought our last minivan I got it because of the way I saw one handle a T-bone crash at 65 miles per hour. 7 people in the minivan and it collided on the passenger door of an early 80's T-Bird. Van was totalled but the passenger compartment was in tact and the force of the damage was taken around the passenger compartment and transferred to the rear of the vehicle. Only injury in the van was a child with a broken arm. He was sitting in the center of the back seat wearing the lap belt and his upper body went forward and his arm hit the bucket seat in front of him.

    By the way the van was a mid 90's Dodge Caravan. Similar to the Chrysler town and country and Plymouth grand voyager.

    I think people who drive small cars (junk) should have to pay more for insurance because of the high likelihood of being injured or killed in a crash.

    (Rant off)
     
  3. Stomper

    Stomper ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ GMOTM Winner

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    cliffnotes /forums/images/graemlins/whistling.gif
     
  4. 350350

    350350 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    cliffnotes /forums/images/graemlins/whistling.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]

    /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif I walked into my Boss's office one morning and said, "This is a long story, so I'll try to summarize,"... and he stopped me right there and said, "Paul, every time you walk into my office I know it's going to be a long story, so just don't even try and go ahead with the long version...

    /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif /forums/images/graemlins/blush.gif
     
  5. 350350

    350350 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    Size matters!!!
    This is why I drive what I do. Now the wife is leaning toward an SUV instead of the Dodge Stratus she has. I will pay more at the pump for my family's safety. It also is easier for my dog to fit. Its a boxer that is very spoiled. As someone who covers crashes for a living I can tell you its far better to be in a larger, better constructed vehicle than a small one made out of plastic.

    When I bought our last minivan I got it because of the way I saw one handle a T-bone crash at 65 miles per hour. 7 people in the minivan and it collided on the passenger door of an early 80's T-Bird. Van was totalled but the passenger compartment was in tact and the force of the damage was taken around the passenger compartment and transferred to the rear of the vehicle. Only injury in the van was a child with a broken arm. He was sitting in the center of the back seat wearing the lap belt and his upper body went forward and his arm hit the bucket seat in front of him.

    By the way the van was a mid 90's Dodge Caravan. Similar to the Chrysler town and country and Plymouth grand voyager.

    I think people who drive small cars (junk) should have to pay more for insurance because of the high likelihood of being injured or killed in a crash.

    (Rant off)

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I will agree that the newer minivans do great in a frontal impact, as they are designed specifically to pass tests, not to pass real life crashes. So in a full frontal crash, they'll pass with flying colors.

    But let me ask you this... What if, instead of the Minivan hitting the T-Bird at 65mph, My G20 Van had T-Boned the Caravan at 65mph? How do you think the 7 passengers in the Caravan would have turned out? I've seen those cars in the junkyards... /forums/images/graemlins/1zhelp.gif You don't see Chrysler making commercials of those impacts in slow motion for a reason. It's like a Claw Hammer through a Soda Can... I don't wish this on anyone's family, and have been attacked for this on other forums for driving such a large vehicle, and therefore putting others in danger... I say, hey, everyone out there has the same opportunity to pick a vehicle that I do. People choose as they choose... And big SUV's caused insurance rates to rise because they do so much damage to smaller cars in accidents... I disagree with that but again if people stand idly by and let insurance companies get away with it, it will happen, and it will only be a matter of time before the insurance companies come up with another way to screw all of us.

    OK, down off the soapbox!!! We have an appointment to get the van's damage appraised on Friday and they want to pay us then on the spot, but we'll see what they offer. I doubt it'll be fair, as I have yet to meet an ethical insurance company, but we'll see. It's been a long time since we've been in an accident...
     
  6. 1-ton

    1-ton 1/2 ton status Premium Member

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    I have been in two serious crashes (both the clear fault of the other driver) in 1970's full-size 1-ton GM trucks, in which there was fatalities. I guarantee that if I had not been in a full size American truck that I would either be dead or in a wheel chair for life. Instead I was able to actually pull my truck to the side of the road, and shut the engine off because it was still running and even barely drivable.
     
  7. 70jimmy

    70jimmy 3/4 ton status Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    I wouldn't want to be in any van in a side impact and very few other vehicles. Best thing for a side impact is if you are high enough for the frame to take some of force but then the frame is usually about a foot into the vehicle so you still won't fare well. Hopefully I won't have to find out about how well any of my vehicles will hold up in a side impact, but if I do I hope I am in the Jimmy. Cage and sliders should help some. Now only if I can get it finished and on the road.
     
  8. BranndonC

    BranndonC 3/4 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    cliffnotes /forums/images/graemlins/whistling.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]
    what he said /forums/images/graemlins/thinking.gif
     
  9. ryoken

    ryoken Puppy Fabricator Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    good to hear everyone is ok...

    side impacts suck...
    [​IMG]
    Doh! and it was a real Cuda too /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif at least i "got the number" of the pole.... imprinted backwards on the door. /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif
     
  10. supersize75k5

    supersize75k5 OrganDonorRacing.com

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    I have been t-boned by a van when I was 16, I was in a 90 nissan sentra and I got hit dead center, it was so bad it pushed the passenger seat a few inches onto mine, and after the crash the only door that would open was the drivers side rear,

    My friend John and Ikept drivin it and trashing it for a couple more weeks, we later ended it's life by jumping it on a 3-4 foot berm, we were smart enough to tape and strap down pillow cushions first..dad was not pleased /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif, /forums/images/graemlins/peace.gif

    later I got 300 bucks from ecology auto wrecking!

    oh, this happened from hitting a palm tree..., the next morning, just 8 hours later we had the axel back in place and some quick body work done /forums/images/graemlins/peace.gif

    [​IMG]

    you can barley tell...........

    [​IMG]
     
  11. 350350

    350350 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    I wouldn't want to be in any van in a side impact and very few other vehicles. Best thing for a side impact is if you are high enough for the frame to take some of force but then the frame is usually about a foot into the vehicle so you still won't fare well. Hopefully I won't have to find out about how well any of my vehicles will hold up in a side impact, but if I do I hope I am in the Jimmy. Cage and sliders should help some. Now only if I can get it finished and on the road.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    I have often joked that I wished someone made a brush guard for the front AND rear of our Van, because my wife is always hitting signs and parked cars and pedestrians and such, and now it's all banged up. THIS time it was completely the OTHER guy's fault, and she usually only hits stationary objects when she's trying to park the behemoth. If we'd had a brushguard on the front of the van we wouldn't have had any damage at all to the van, but probably would have bent the brushguard slightly...
     
  12. 350350

    350350 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    good to hear everyone is ok...

    side impacts suck...
    [​IMG]
    Doh! and it was a real Cuda too /forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif at least i "got the number" of the pole.... imprinted backwards on the door. /forums/images/graemlins/rotfl.gif

    [/ QUOTE ]

    Dayamn, Man!!! OUCH!!!

    I hope I'm not too out of line to insinuate here, but a buddy and I have similar pictures of his '67 Mustang that we wrapped around a telephone pole one night, and we both had major concussions... But both walked away... WAY away... I think we walked for hours just wandering in the night because it was in the middle of nowhere and like 3am, and we were, shall we say, heavily sedated, and with concussions on top of that, we had no idea what we were doing. Finally some dudes in a Chevelle came up on us and took us to town where there was a 24-hour gas station where we called some buddies to come pick us up... The pole went to almost the direct center of the car. I have a picture standing exactly facing the rear end of the car, with my buddy staniding where the pole came to rest, and his head is popped out right in the center of the roof... He was on my lap when the car came to rest, as he was driving and I was the passenger... Probably lucky all it had was lap belts, and we had them on.

    The real shitter was that by the time we got back out there about 4 hours later with a 4x4 and a car trailer to get it home, someone (probably the 'Good Old Boys' that picked us up and took us to the gas station, as they asked a lot of questions about where exactly we had the wreck and I doubt anyone else was out that way that late, but who really knows...) had cleaned out his car, stolen his stereo, his gages, his tools, and everything else not heavily bolted down. The only thing they didn't get was the tool box in the trunk that was so badly mangled into the wreck that it took a cutting torch to get it out, then lots of pry bars to get all the tools out of it.

    So anyway, did you walk away from this crash, or did you get mummified for a few months??? /forums/images/graemlins/yikes.gif
     
  13. ryoken

    ryoken Puppy Fabricator Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    that friggin sucks someone would rob the car... peeps can be such asshats....

    and yeah, thats my "shoulda died" accident.. walked away with a 2 stitch cut in the head, thats it.. pretty freaking amazing...

    spent the day doing burnouts cuz i had a fresh pair of N50-15's waiting in the garage to go on the next day.. get unexpected call that night to pick girlfriend up at airport. lost it coming home in rain doing about 60 (what a welcome home present).

    obviously sideswiped a pole. /forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif broke it in half (they tried to bill me for it) /forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif /forums/images/graemlins/doah.gif

    the floor came over so far it broke the tranny.. the car was so bent in 1/2 that the front and back hung off one side of the flatbed, and the middle hung off the other side... the passenger 1/4 to door gap was about 5" and had ripped the striker out. /forums/images/graemlins/eek.gif

    thankfully, my girl only sprained her ankle..

    longest 5 seconds of my life...
     
  14. 82diesel

    82diesel 1/2 ton status

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    ever see a truck drive up into the back of a minivan ?

    Or a couple months ago on HWY 4, Semi rearended dodge 1 ton truck. Entire bed was shrunk from 8 ft to about 4 and 1/2 length (rest was pushed down and in) cap was twisted. Now wonder what would have happened to a car.
     
  15. ryoken

    ryoken Puppy Fabricator Premium Member GMOTM Winner

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    actually one time i was pulled over on the side of the road with a cop after a girl clipped my 1/4 panel. we're finishing up the accident report and getting ready to leave when some guy in a fullsize van wasn't watching in front, probably watching us and rearended a pickup that was stopped in front of him. going like 50. crazy damage. road right up into the bed of the pickup, just accordianed (sp) the pickup 1/4's right up to the cab.. it happened about 20' from where me and this cop where standing. i turned to the cop and said i bet you see alot of this, he said "all the time".....
     
  16. jarheadk5

    jarheadk5 1/2 ton status

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    [ QUOTE ]
    ever see a truck drive up into the back of a minivan ?

    [/ QUOTE ]

    When I was 15, I saw a Ford Louisville 8000 bobtail hit a late-80's Honda Civic head-on; closure speed was estimated by the accident investigator at 100+mph. The truck's tierod broke at a previously-noted damaged area, and the left-front wheel dragged the truck into the oncoming lane. The young girl driving the Civic died in the helicopter enroute to the hospital. I was about 100 yards away from the scene, on my bike, when it happened.
     

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