Friday, November 20, 2009

Why I'm Working From Home Tomorrow  

So I've been sick this week, last Friday evening up until now, with what appears to be a severe common cold. I was actually working from home, at 50% power, for Monday and Tuesday, and came in late Wednesday; so today I was actually glad to get in. But I was coughing so badly that my boss at the Search Engine that Starts With a G (who was suffering from a similar cold with a similar time course) recommended I go home early.

If only I'd taken him up on that, rather than waiting to come home in rush hour:

side impact to a nissan pathfinder rear driver side door

In case you're wondering, I'm fine, the lady who hit me and spun off 360 degrees is fine, and the guy in the other car she caromed off of is also fine. But, I feel like crap. I wonder why?

side impact airbag deployed inside a nissan pathfinder

No, that's not a pillowcase stuffed into my "B" bar: that's a "Thank God for Side Impact" Airbag, post-deployment. And Thank God for SUV's: the Pathfinder took the brunt of the impact and didn't even get knocked out of its lane. I was rattled, my Bluetooth headpiece was knocked off and bounced off the other side of the car, and my Mom on the other end nearly had a heart attack as she heard a screech and then I got cut off ... but the Pathfinder didn't even get knocked out of its lane. Didn't swerve. Didn't stop. Didn't even slow down. Hell, it took me a half a mile before I could pull over.

Oh, drat, am I doing this out of order? I was southbound on the middle lane of California 85 in a clot of rush-hour traffic, talking to my mother with my Bluetooth headpiece, when I heard a screech then a bang and felt a jolt. I said, "hey, Mom, did you hear that?" and noticed that the Bluetooth headpiece was gone, my side was in pain, and a car was spinning off behind me in my left rearview mirror. I blinked, realized, "oh, shit, I'm in a vehicle that's just been hit" and quickly started to pull over in case there was a fuel leak or other catastrophic damage to the vehicle. But I was just past the join of 87 and 85, and none of the merging traffic would let me over for near half a mile. Finally, just as twilight turned to dark, I pulled over, scrambled out of the car, and waited for it not to catch on fire.

wider view of the side impact

When I was sure it was safe, I called Mom back, then began the long trudge back to the accident site, where three cars were stuck in the middle lane. I called out to make sure everyone was OK, and they called back to verify I had been in the truck. After fifteen minutes, traffic finally thinned enough for me to cross, by which time the first car (the witness) had disappeared. We discussed what happened, and as best as the three of us could determine, the lady who struck me hit her brakes too hard as traffic was knotting up, lost control, then rammed me, spun off, then hit him.

incomplete accident report

Miraculously, none of us were hurt, even after her 360 degree spin, and all three cars were drivable. A DMV truck arrived, stopped traffic so we could move their cars off to the side and take stock; after the other two cars drove off, he took me to my car and made sure I could drive off as well. The Pathfinder rode a little rough ... but she rode.

However, at 185,000 miles and four (4!) someone-rammed-into-me-for-no-good-reason accidents, the heroically-protective Nissan Pathfinder is probably going to be counted as totaled by the insurance company (call scheduled for sometime around 8-10am tomorrow, hence the "coming in late or working from home entirely" email to my boss and team at work).

Ah, Pathfinder, you did a good job, my friend...

the heroic nissan pathfinder

My next car? An SUV. A hybrid, of course...

-the Centaur



I'm so glad you're okay.

I want your readers to know that SUVs are not the safest cars, because of two reasons.

1) You can't avoid accidents as well as you can in a smaller, more maneuverable car. The key to surviving on the road is mostly avoiding accidents and much less about being in a vehicle that can withstand an accident. Also, SUVs are more likely to flip over than other cars.

2) Risk compensation. One's feeling of safety in an SUV is greater than the actual safety in an SUV, resulting in perverse risk compensation, which means that, as a driver, one will take on more risk depending on the subjective feeling of safety.

Unfortunately, car ratings for safety only measure how safe you'd be in the car given that you've been in an accident, and don't control for the fact that different cars are more or less likely to get into accidents in the first place.

The safest vehicle on the road? The Toyota Avalon. Read a fascinating article on this subject, including a chart showing deaths per million drivers per vehicle, at http://www.gladwell.com/2004/2004_01_12_a_suv.html
# posted by Blogger Jim Davies : 5:20 AM
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