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MAX Update No. 4: Crash Test Dummy

8/5/2008 11:24:05 AM

Tags: MAX, Auto X Prize, 100 mpg, gas mileage

Last Drive for MAXThis one's going in my wallet. It's the last pretty picture of MAX, on its way to a date with destiny. An hour later, MAX was in Eureka, stopped behind a van that had stopped for pedestrians, and the car behind me didn't stop for anything.

According to the accident report, the driver was progressing at a legal 30 mph and failed to notice that us other drivers weren't progressing at all. MAX is much shorter now, and wrinkly from stern to prow, since the impact from the back pushed me into the van in front.

So, what can we learn from this experience? We can learn how quickly we can make a new car, that's for sure. MAX is totaled, and though officially it's being rebuilt, it's going to be a bit like the joke about Abe Lincoln's axe:

“Yep, it's an heirloom, that axe has been in our family for 150 years.”

“Gosh, it looks brand new.”

“We've given it the best of care, generation after generation. My great grandfather replaced the handle, and my grandfather replaced the head.”

Or this could become like the true story of the Vin Fiz, the first aircraft to fly transcontinental across America back in 1911. It crashed and was repaired 22 times along the way; the only original parts left on the plane were the engine oil drain plug and one wing strut.

One lesson from this is it's better to sacrifice a car than a life. The front and rear of the chassis absorbed the impact as they crumpled, but the passenger compartment stayed its original shape, as did I. All in all I'm pleased with how well MAX “took one for the team.”

Another lesson is defensive driving is a full time job. I was stopped, in neutral, and I'd pretty much checked out of the driving experience. I had half an eye and about twelve neurons devoted to noticing when the car in front of me started to move, but otherwise I was giving my brain a little time off. In retrospect, I think the middle of the road is a bad place to take a break, and I should have been scanning for traffic despite being parked. Maybe it wouldn't have made a difference. But then again, maybe if I'd been pumping my brakes (and thus flashing my brake lights on and off) and screaming like a little girl, maybe my assailant would have noticed me two seconds earlier and saved us both a bunch of paperwork.

Live and learn. Now if you'll excuse me, I have a car to rebuild.

Follow our progress at Kinetic Vehicles and through the MAX Updates on this blog.



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Post a comment below.

 

Jack McCornack
8/29/2008 10:01:22 AM
Aw shucks, Eddie (blush). I'll pass your comment along with my request for a raise...oh, wait, that won't work, I'm self-employed. There are a couple more MAX articles scheduled before the PIAXP race begins (September '09), and some peeks at what the other competitors are doing.

Eddie Colon_1
8/29/2008 6:55:16 AM
I'd like to say that this MAX column is really a great idea, I read the first article , enjoyed it alot, now I am looking forward to the next article. I am sure lots of other subscribers will feel the same. This is gonna be a big hit with subscribers and non-subscribers. I am also reading the MAX blog, but lots of people who only get the magazine will want new MAX articles in the magazine. Please continue telling this great X-Prize story, it has everyone's attention.

Jack McCornack
8/13/2008 10:37:37 AM
Thank you Bill, MAX (now code named Lincoln's Axe) should be on the road again in a week or so. Sad but true, your advice re clamming up at the scene of the accident is sound. Our legal system is geared toward adversaries, not consensus; that's why this particular MAX Update had to wait 'till fault was determined--for example, I'd hate to have to explain (particularly to a jury of my peers) why I failed to scream like a little girl when it might have done some good. The flip side is, I believe I can best improve my skills by focusing on ways I can do better rather than ways other people can do better, and "It was all her fault" wouldn't leave me much room for personal improvement. In closing, here's a little highway safety diddy from the '50s: He was right--dead right--as he drove along, But he's just as dead as if he'd been wrong

Bill Broughton
8/13/2008 1:48:34 AM
Dear Mr. McCornack, I read with great interest your article about MAX, and was sorry to hear about its untimely demise. I am glad to hear that you were unharmed, and wish you luck getting your car back in shape for the upcoming contest. Now if may give one word of advice, and this comes directly from personal experience. When you are the victim in an accident, never, under any circumstances, even intimate that you could have done something different that would have resulted in the accident being avoided. You will leave yourself open to being blamed by the other person's insurance company, who will take your statement and twist it to suit their needs, and then refuse payment, leaving you with the deductible, if not the whole bill. When you are in an accident, never give more information than is legally called for. It's safest that way. Even if the other person admits fault. I learned the hard way. Anyway, good luck, and thank you again for your articles about MAX. Bill Broughton

Jack McCornack
8/9/2008 2:15:13 AM
Thanks Warner, I'm real glad she hit me with a passenger car instead of a jacked-up pickup truck. We're going to add a few more (more?) safety features (MAX had safety features?) this time around.

Warner
8/8/2008 1:26:12 PM
Thank goodness you weren't hurt. Good luck fixing the car.

Jack McCornack
8/8/2008 10:54:55 AM
Yes indeed. We're painting the chassis this weekend and will start final assembly next week. It's an awfully simple car, it doesn't take long to build one.

BILL UHLER
8/8/2008 9:36:55 AM
Will the car be repaired in time to compete for the X prize?

Jack McCornack
8/5/2008 7:22:25 PM
Where's Eureka (I was asked off list)? It's a charming coastal town in Baja Oregon. Not to be confused with Yreka, which is exactly what our sec/treas/denmother did when she came down to fetch me. Yreka is on I-5, quite a ways from Eureka, I told her it would have been a scenic drive if night hadn't fallen but she didn't want to hear about it.







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