MAX Update No. 4: Crash Test Dummy

http://www.motherearthnews.com/green-transportation/auto-x-prize-100-mpg-crash-test.aspx

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.