# Statistics of witnessing a car accident?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by strantor, Sep 17, 2013.

1. ### strantor Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

Oct 3, 2010
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There's been a statistical anomaly that I have witnessed and been following closely for a long time, as it applies to myself. I never witness automobile accidents. I have been in a handful of accidents myself, and I drive by one or two on the side of the road almost daily, but I have never actually seen one happen, that I wasn't involved in (until this morning).

It seems very counter intuitive to be this way. At any given time on a packed highway, I have probably 20 cars in my field of view. So if an accident were to happen within my field of view, it seems like there would be a 95% chance that it would happen to someone other than me. But until this morning, when ever there has been an accident in my field of view, I was involved in it 100% of the time.

I know you're going to joke around about my driving skills, so I'll get that out of the way now; Am I a bad driver? maybe. I've been involved in 3 at-fault accidents in the 12 years I've been driving (all in the first 3 years), and been rear-ended 3 times also. I don't know how that measures up to everyone's criteria, but it seems that to have been involved in 6 accidents and never seen one otherwise, where the likelihood is 1 in 20 each, comes out to an overall likelihood of 1 in 64 million to be in my shoes. I seriously doubt that I'm that "lucky" (unlucky).

Am I an inattentive driver? Could there have been accidents in my peripheral vision throughout the years that I missed? Maybe a few. But going back to my flaky math, in order to satisfy the 1 in 20 "rule," having been in 6 accidents, I should have seen about 120 accidents and I didn't see ANY.

So, what are your experiences? How many accidents have you been in and how many have you seen? How terrible is my math? Please, state your statistical analysis, because I'm sure mine full of holes.

2. ### bountyhunter Well-Known Member

Sep 7, 2009
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Considering the accident only lasts a few seconds, you are thousands of times more likely to see the remnants of an accident than the accident itself. I have never seen an accident occur either, seen MANY accident scenes.

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3. ### Georacer Moderator

Nov 25, 2009
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I've been wondering about that too! I see tons of accidents each year, but always after they are done, never happening.

I always hear that "screeeeee" of the tires... and then nothing.

The closest was two years ago when driving night in the city on a big road. An NSX drove past me doing about 100kmh and 400m down the road and one turn later I found him lodged in a bust stop. Still, not a live accident.

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4. ### #12 Expert

Nov 30, 2010
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It's OK, strantor. I decided to stay out of Houston about 25 years ago.

Personally? I had 3 collisions in my first 10 years of driving. One was equipment failure and 2 were other people trying to drive where I was already at. That last one made me REAL cautious! (Nothing like ripping one of my legs off to convince me I'm doing something wrong.) I haven't even scratched a paint job since 1976. Of course, I annoy people by going the speed limit and using turn signals. But when I told my friend that I got pulled over, he said, "It sure as H\$%% wasn't for speeding!" (It was a bad headlight.)

So, back to the subject, I have seen two collisions that I wasn't in. I've seen dozens of accident scenes, two in the last 2 weeks. Actually seeing the, "screech...BAM" is a rare event.

Here is an example of why I can avoid collisions most of the time:

It was a dark and stormy night. I'm at a red light and see in front of me a black pickup truck waiting to turn left toward me. A black Limo coming from the left is going to cross his path. I whipped a quick right up the service road. In my rear view mirror, I saw the Limo T-bone the pickup truck. They locked together and spun into the car that was waiting behind me at the red light. I could just imagine the driver of the car that was waiting behind me trying to get my license plate number so he could blame me for not cushioning him from the impact.

The best place to be in a traffic collision is some other place.

As WBahn called it, "a well nourished sense of paranoia". Try it. It could save you some broken bones.

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5. ### strantor Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

Oct 3, 2010
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Yeah, that makes total sense and I get it. But my curiosity isn't the statistical relationship between seeing an accident happen and seeing the accident aftermath, it's the statistical relationship between seeing an accident happen and being in an accident.

It seems like you see way more accidents happen than you experience, but that seems untrue at least to me.

6. ### strantor Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

Oct 3, 2010
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Google is not being very forthcoming with information on "probability of witnessing an accident," but if you were ever curious about your chances of dying in a plane crash, google has more than you could ever read about that.

7. ### joeyd999 AAC Fanatic!

Jun 6, 2011
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I witness an accident occurring on average about once a month. They happen at the intersection right outside my office window.

I usually go down and tell the cops what I saw, and offer to be a witness. They take my statement and that's the last I hear of it.

In 30 years of driving, I've never had an at-fault crash, though I was the last domino in a crash many years back. I've now jinxed myself, and will probably have one today on my way home...

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8. ### strantor Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

Oct 3, 2010
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Exactly! WHY? Doesn't seem more likely to SEE the "screech...BAM" than be involved in it?
I find that just maintaining a safe following distance goes a long way. That's something most Houstonians don't believe in, and that's what ALL of my not-at-fault accidents have been due to. That's what this morning's accident was. The last time I got rear ended would have been a 7 car pile-up, but since I was maintaining a safe following distance, it was a 3 car pile up in front of me, and a 3 car pile up behind me.

I just do not understand why people want to drive 5ft away from my bumper at highway speed! Risk Vs. reward, people! What is there to gain by tailgating? Do you think you can push me faster via that tiny air cushion between us? If you've been back there for a whole mile and it hasn't worked yet, then it isn't going to. Your pickup doesn't intimidate me. Nor does your Peterbuilt - That's the kicker; I just can't believe what I see sometimes, 18 wheelers barrelling down on cars and then driving so close that I doubt the truck driver can even see the car over the edge of his hood.

I'd wager a bet that if you could somehow electronically force vehicles to maintain a safe following distance by kicking in a governor based on ultrasonic distance sensing, wrecks would be all but eliminated. But that smacks of nanny state, so I'll reverse course now. Maybe a better option is a voluntary installation of an oil mister that automatically covers tailgater's windshields in tarry unholiness when they get too close; get enough people doing that, and should have the same effect.

9. ### strantor Thread Starter AAC Fanatic!

Oct 3, 2010
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I figured someone would mention this. I also worked near a dangerous intersection. It was when I was in high school; at a quick lube, and we would hear the sound maybe once every couple of months "screech! BAM" then we all go scurry out from wherever we were in the shop and run outside to see if anybody is hurt. But I never actually saw one happen. I could have wasted months of my life staring at that intersection, waiting to see it, and still see nothing.

10. ### #12 Expert

Nov 30, 2010
18,076
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You could try a bumper sticker that says, "Rear view mirror broken, can't see you tailgating me".

or try slowing down until the tailgater gets irritated enough to pass you.
Yeah. I know. That won't work because the next car behind you will just move into tailgating position.

11. ### bountyhunter Well-Known Member

Sep 7, 2009
2,498
512
I actually did see an accident... sort of. I was on I-280 on Christmas Day and a lunatic in a sports car flew by me at about 100. There is a horrible right exit junction to another freeway a mile up, and as we approached, I saw tire smoke and cars swerving left and right like a NASCAR accident. I let off the gas but did not brake, and stayed in my lane and was able to drive through. As I got there, I was going through the drifting tire smoke and I saw the sports car mangled off the side of the road and several other cars with damage as well.

Even when you "see" an accident, you don't see much.

12. ### loosewire AAC Fanatic!

Apr 25, 2008
1,571
442
I saw a car get boarded sided ,there was a cloud of eerie dust that engulfed the

car. There a lady sitting straight up in the back seat ,as I got to the car ( the lady

collapsed). I don't know if she survived , the dust was the thing I will always

remember ,and the lady being there and then dropping down in place into the seat.

This was about 10 seconds ,it happens that fast to see a lady cross over time.

13. ### shortbus Expert

Sep 30, 2009
6,840
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Maybe she wasn't hurt,,, just overwhelmed by meeting the Loosewire in person.

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14. ### joeyd999 AAC Fanatic!

Jun 6, 2011
4,227
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Anyone got a Loosewire dictionary I can borrow?

15. ### #12 Expert

Nov 30, 2010
18,076
9,691
If you find one, don't give it to Loosewire. We keep him around because he makes the rest of us look good.

16. ### GetDeviceInfo AAC Fanatic!

Jun 7, 2009
1,622
240
Chillin on Johnny Cash and seeing the dust cloud, now that's the real deal my friend. The only thing I can add is that glass dust. It gets in your eyes, ears, nose, mouth, and even into your pores.

17. ### gerty AAC Fanatic!

Aug 30, 2007
1,248
345
I've witnessed a few wrecks, nothing spectacular. And being a EMT I've worked a few hundred of them I guess. I was involved in one myself, it was in a town near Greenville TX. I was broadsided by a truckload of "landscapers", after the vehicles stopped moving they all got out and ran. The local PD was there in about 5 minutes. When I informed him that the occupants of the other vehicle ran, he made a phone call to the business (name was on the door).
About 10 minutes later a brand new dually showed up, the driver never got out he just called the cop over to the truck. The officer later informed me that he would have to investigate the wreck, interview witnesses (there were none), and that he would mail me a copy of the accident report.
Two weeks later I get the report, it was all my fault, I shouldn't have been driving in town at the same time as the "landscapers".

The fact that I was from out of town and the business was local had nothing to do with it.

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18. ### killivolt Distinguished Member

Jan 10, 2010
679
991
I've got plenty of sights sounds and people who I've help or assisted in the comfort after car crashes to many that I really don't want to relive by telling, in the 20yrs spent on the road as Service Technician.

But, I want to tell the most spectacular that no one was hurt. I'm driving my usual morning trip to work, which is south in Utah about 60mile through canions. After reaching the summit it's only about 1/2 hr more and you descend through rock walls.

Crumbling rocks and such, I come round a corner to see, Gremlin, with a rock the size of the hood and taller than the roof of the car, Implanted in the engine compartment.

Well at the time early 80's before cell phones, I get out examine the damage ask if the guy is ok, who is in shock looking at his car, and he say's, ya I'm fine, I told him when I reach work I will call the "HW, patrol" and inform them your in trouble and in need of assistance.

It totally barks my tree as I wish I had a camera.

kv

Edit: The funny part is the way the rock crushed the car, the wheels at an angle bottoms out and tops in and the car planted firmly into the road. I never laughed so hard in my life.

It's still funny to me today. I'm damn glad I didn't have to see the stuff I have had to see and live.

Peace from the old-timer

Regards,
kv

Last edited: Sep 18, 2013
19. ### GopherT AAC Fanatic!

Nov 23, 2012
7,983
6,786
I've seen two and a half accidents. The half is when a tire flow over the short jersey barrier as I was driving to the airport in Frankfurt, Germany in 1998. Since I didn't see the impact, I'll call it a half. The tire was just in my sight for a fraction of a second and then everyone slammed on their brakes. I was about 7 or 8 cars back.

It turns out, the tire landed in someone's front seat and it was a really bad day. We all got to sit in our cars for 2 hours and think about how fast life can be over.

Last edited: Sep 19, 2013
20. ### loosewire AAC Fanatic!

Apr 25, 2008
1,571
442
It was hit so hard ,that all the dust formed a gray cloud around the car. I was

there ,I know what I saw ,I don't remember walking in a lot of glass ,and safety

glass holds together. You said witness the hit when it happened ,in one instant

the lady went from one state to another.

Last edited: Sep 19, 2013