Car crash!

I was originally going to write a review of the Depeche Mode concert I had tickets for, but I can't due to extentuating circumstances.

On the way to the concert, Sharon and I had to take the exit that would lead to the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. So we got on the lane that would lead into the exit, but the exit came up really suddenly and we were going too fast to make the turn. What followed next is the biggest car crash I've been in.

Since we couldn't make the turn, and since we were already in the exit lane, we ended up going straight in the bushes and crashed into a huge tree. The seat-belts were stretched, the air bags blew up, Sharon was screaming, and there was a lot of blood on my airbag (which had popped due to the impact of my face on it).

The impact, according to the police accident report, was supposed to have occured at 54 mph.

My first reaction was to get out of the car since the engine was smoking and I was afraid it'd blow up or something (I guess I've been watching too many car crash movies). I urged Sharon to get out of the car (she was still screaming) and so we did. My nose was bleeding extensively (not because of any injury---it was probably because the air-bag popped in my face and/or my head being thrown about). The front of the car was totally wrecked. We didn't appear to be really hurt except for all the blood on my airbag and Sharon feeling a bit funny (the airbag had popped on her side too, due to the impact). Anyways, while I was still contemplating what we should do (I had a searing pain in my chest (probably due to the seat belt), she was getting a bit hysterical.

Several people stopped by and asked if we needed help. In 10 minutes, there were cops. And then there was an ambulance! So we ended up going to the hospital where I refused treatment since I was feeling quite well by that time. I have a lot of seat belt bruises, but I've seen worse. In my case, I was lucky the belt caught around my arm and that's the only region that was bruised. I was also lucky because I don't weigh a lot and so I wasn't thrown forward as hard as I could've been. In Sharon's case, it was her neck that was pulled against the seatbelt and so her neck was bruised (pretty badly, but she's okay) and she had to have x-rays taken. In any case, we both ended up coming out the hospital in pretty good shape, though the doctor said we would ache for the next few days.

I find the police estimate of the speed of the impact dubious since we were doing 55 mph and we slowed down a bit on the exit lane, but Sharon got a ticket for negligent driving anyways. I must say that I think the airbags played a huge rule in making sure I didn't break a bunch of other bones or be hurt by objects that penetrated the windshield. Airbags have a bad reputation now, but regarding the perceived dangers they pose: (i) young children shouldn't be riding in the front, and (ii) they're supposed to be used with seatbelts!

In any case, during the moments when we were hurling through the bushes, I thought I was going to die. It was an existential moment, and unlike roller coasters and such where you know nothing's gonna happen, here you are left with the thought that you could've died. One learns some important lessons from such experiences. I have always scoffed at seatbelts and refused to wear them at one point. After having seen a few of my friends in car crashes, I started changing my opinion about them. Now I am totally convinced they are useful! The thing that hurt me the most are the protective devices (seatbelts and airbags), but if it weren't for that, I definitely would've gone through the windshield. So, wear your seatbelts, even in the back seat. Secondly, if you are going to buy a car, try to get one that has airbags on both sides. They help a lot.

The final point about going through near-death experiences and coming out essentially unscathed is that you feel numb afterwards. It's as though a lot of things in life (I was having a few arguments over e-mail and they all seem pointless to me now) no longer matter. This isn't a good view to have, and I'm sure I'll get over it.

To give you a graphic illustration of what happened:

                                 | |*----
                                 | |/ ---
                                 |    |
                                 | |  |

                             * - site of crash
                             ^ - our direction

So, no Depeche Mode concert review. But They Might be Giants are on this Saturday. Let's hope I make it there in one piece (with seatbelts and airbags).

Interestingly enough, had I gone to the concert, they would've played this tune:

"Hey little girl,
 drive anywhere. 
 Do what you want.
 I don't care.
 I'm in the hands of fate.
 Over on a plate
       ---Depeche Mode, Behind the Wheel

While it is set in a somewhat different context, I think it makes sense in this one too.

Pseudo-intellectual ram-blings || Ram Samudrala || || June 14, 1994