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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So, yeah, this story started in the road racing forum, but want to share with all my friends here. I got married on Saturday, and went on our honeymoon. Tina and I were driving from Kingston to Niagara Falls on Monday afternoon when it happened.

Tina fell asleep on the highway, hit the rumble strips on the right side, freaked out and swerved the car, I woke up, felt the car was yawing, and I grabbed the wheel to try to straighten it out. It didn't work, and we hit the center devider head on at about 50mph. The steering wheel airbag broke my left wrist.

This was in Tina's stock ZTS, not my spin-miester.

Tina is ok, just seatbelt abraisions and sore neck. The Focus did well, it was a damn hard hit.

So, needless to say, the honeymoon is over early.

It's all very freaky, we could have died very easily. So I'm thankful for that. Hearing your wife scream in terror is not a pleasant thing.

I'm left wondering if I did the right thing, trying to steer. In my mind I know the car was already gone. But I don't know for sure. I think her father blames me.

I'm just very glad to be alive.

If anybody else gets married, don't listen to all the pressures of the things you HAVE to do. Bachellor party, wedding day, run off on a honeymoon etc... it's too much. We had insomnia before and after the wedding, from all the stress. I wanted to relax at our cottage, but there is the pressure to have a "romantic" wedding. So we went to Niagara Falls. Tina's brain just shut down with no warning at 3 in the afternoon, after drinking a coffee, and only drove 30 minutes.

Ultimately it's our fault, but I blame society for putting all this pressure on people getting married to do this, that and the other thing.

I've analzsed it pretty far with some friends here at work, that's how I deal with things. Analyze them, anyway, here's the in depth of what happened:

I was trying to sleep in the passenger seat, when I felt the rumble strip on the right side. And not a kiss but we went right over it. I said with my eyes closed "Tina's what's going on?" She says she doesn't remember the rumble strip, or pulling off it. She had blacked out, and I think acted instinctively. So she yanked it to the left too hard, and I think that's when her brain kicked on again, but she says she had tunnel vision. She couldn't see outside the car. We went too far to the left, and she yanked it back to the right. I *believe* but I can't remember clear, that that's when I felt the car start to yaw left, so I reached over and pushed the wheel a little to the center to straighten it out but it wasn't enough, and we went to the right side of the lane again, and she steered left again, and the back end yawed strongly right. I pushed the wheel to center again, but by that point the rear end was yawing too far right and I couldn't catch it without being in the drivers seat. We might have even fishtailed one more cycle, but I can't remember clearly.

So we headed off to the left, crossed both lanes at probably 30 degrees from straight ahead (quite steep across the lanes) and the tail was yawed out to the right. We impacted the wall at about a 45* angle, but probably only 30* velocity angle because we were yawed about 15 degrees right.

So it was quite hard, probably 50mph. We were doing 70 initially and scrubbed a little off, but I don't know if she even used the brakes. They say the brain captures frames like a camera, and the airbags are too fast to see, but I actually have an image in my head of the bags semi-deployed. Like a snapshot. Weird.

For me the whole thing happened slow, I remember most little details, Tina screaming, etc. It's horrifying for me being in a car that is out of control, helpless. Because normally I could control anything. I was sitting there in the passenger seat with my hand on the wheel, but I couldn't do anything. So I have a feeling of helplessness. But also guilt. I think her father blames me, and I have to wonder. Did I over-react and make it worse? I remember the car yawed before I started to intervene, but I can't remember the details. Or maybe she would have caught it if I wasn't trying to drive, I dunno... I doubt that. My engineering head says we were gone, but my heart asks if it's my fault.

She can't remember much. She just remembers me asking what's going on, then steering but had tunnel vision, and doesn't remember much about the events that happened.

The car impacted, bounced off, then hit again 15 feet later. And then I think we rode the wall for about 20-30 feet before stopping.

So, pretty major damage. The hood came up. The fluids all let go, rad and everthing is toast. Trans case is dented and the motor was pushed into the frame rail and tore all the accessory pulleys off. (pretty surprising to find the idler pulley on top of the valve cover). Frame rails are bent to the right, and the roof even has a tiny buckle right over the driver's door, and that door won't open a crack. The left strut buckled like a straw, and pulled out of the knuckle, the ball joint seperated, and the whole wheel basically came off tearing out the CV joint.

It's amazing how getting married changes you.

I'm thinking about the replacement car, and fun is very low down on the list. I'm thinking Volvo.

I'd get another Focus, it held up well, they're very safe. I'd love to get a nice Wagon with the 2.3. But I want side airbags, and stability control. I can't help but think that if we'd had IVD, we wouldn't have crashed at all. Or that we could have been Tboned and one of us would have died without side airbags.

But stability control isn't available anymore right?

I think it's a must. The next car will be the family car, and it has to be safe.

I'm thinking about waiting for a S40 or V50, when do they come out?

How about the Mazda 3, does it have stability control?

What else can I look at? The budget is under $25k.
 

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Don't worry about her father...probably a typical parental reaction not grounded in logic. It wasn't your fault.

Glad to see you're ok.
 

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I'm glad to hear you're okay, first of all.

Sorry to hear it was on your honeymoon. I was the insomniac/wreck the night before our wedding (Jeff snored like a bear) and I slept while Jeff barreled up Hwy1 in our rental car the next day, of course he was fresh as a daisy.

Most important is that you both are still alive. Cars are replaceable, people aren't.

(but I'm going to have to go with the V50 on this, I'm partial to Volvos, just inherited my dad's 960....)
 

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Scary! But at the same time very good to hear that the ZTS did well - especially good to hear since I have one. I have Stability control, and I know it saved me once or twice--well worth the money. I haven't heard anything about AdvanceTrac going off the options list, I just know that they're offering traction control as a separate option for those who just want help not peeling out.



Anyway, Wagon would be sweet. But Volvo's are awesome cars. Glad you guys are ok, and let us know what you decide on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
I'm lucky to have a few really good friends here who are helping me out. They have to analyze things like me to deal with them.

One of them is a Ford suspension calibration engineer, and he's heard of stories where a non-calibration engineer was driving, and was saved when a calibration dude (read: really good driver) intervened from the passenger seat.

Another friend is a cop, and studies the human body and brain's reaction to life/death situations as it related to policework. He says I can't blame myself, because in those situations, your most basic instincts automatically kick in and you aren't even thinking anymore. I felt the car oversteering, and tried to feedback the right input, simple as that. The fact that it was impossible from the passenger seat would never have entered my mind. It was automatic, just like blinking when something is flying at your head.
 

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wow. glad to hear you two are ok. and yeah, it could have been worse - you could have hit other cars swerving from side to side. you shouldn't let what her father said get to you; both of you were in a panic situation and did everything instinctively and very fast.
 

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Helluva way to start a marriage. I'm very analytical myself and I would be reading way to much into that right there. Glad you too are ok. And don't worry about your father-in-law. Like was said prolly just a gut parental reaction.
 

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Good to hear that you both are gonna be ok.


04 Focus ABS and Traction Control appear to be seperate options, and the TC is only on the Zetec cars, N/A on 2.3. No "stability control" anywhere to be seen--that is unfortunate that the bean-counters took control.
 

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My brother barrelled into the back of a truck doing 40+mph in his ZX3 and I was really surprised how well it held up. The front end was gone but there was no intrusion into the interior.

If you're considering a Volvo, I'd get either an S60 or used S70. The quality isn't there on the S40. If you want to go cheaper get a used '02 Taurus for $10k. I got Tboned in the drivers side by a full size van at 50mph in my old Taurus and just got a bump on my head. The car still started and drove with the right wheel.
 

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dont get hit from the back or the sides weak areas on the focus
 

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Glad to hear your OK rob. NOt that anybody wants to hear the dry science. But from a purely neurological perspective, males' reticular formations (the crap in your medulla that waked you up when you felt the rumble strips) react faster and help you experience comparatively less disorientation when woken up compared to females. SO, from a PURELY biological standpoint, you had more chance of waking up in time to save the car than she did.

But more importantly, no amount of facts are gonna stop you blaming yourself, it's natural. Think of it as more an affirmation of how much you care bout her than anything that you blame yourself for what happened. Guilt'll go away in time. Just remember what's causing the guilt (hint: love and the feeling of impotence at inability to help yoru loved one) and you'll pull through all right.

T5's are a beautiful little engine. IF you can wait out for a v50, do it. THat's the route i'm convincing my father to take, and that i may take in a year or two. Volvo's stability control is a bit too intrusive (which i dont' think she'll mind too much), but defeatable (which you'll like). don't get a current s40 though. Cowl shake all over the place...wouldnt' trust the structure in a crash compared to a c170 or c1, not to mention that your knees are too close to the dash.

FYI, side airbags have been available on the focus since its launch. We ordered ours before they hit the lots stateside, and got side airbags. 600 dollar option.
 

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Rob,
We are all very glad that you and Tina will be okay and I am sure it had to be a terrifying situation not knowing what was going on.Like others have said don't worry about her Dad placing blame on you as it seems to be a typical parental response.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Well, just did a little shopping. Man, GM has teh suck! NOTHING interesting to us. Oh, and Tina's rental is a base 2door Sunfire. What a POS.

Checked Ford, and their books say they still get the Zetec in 04. What up with that? And no Advance Trac available.

So, he's gonna look for an 03 with Advance Trac, see what's out there.
 

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I intervened from the passenger seat in a similar situation when my friend had pushed his brand new 4WS Prelude too hard into a downhill, off camber left turn and saved his car from smacking the outside curb. He was frozen and didn't even think to countersteer. Of course I was wide awake and well aware of our surroundings and the path of travel at the time, so I wasn't as bad off as you. The accident most certainly was not your fault, and I agree with your rant on the stresses of a wedding taking their toll. I've never done it myself, but even participating in my friends weddings in the past has been a nightmare.

I hope your wrist heals up fast and I'm glad to hear that was the worst injury. Funny you mention the airbag thing - I t-boned a car one time that turned left in front of me and recall the same scene of the airbags deploying. Weird...

AdvanceTrac does seem to have fallen off the option list for '04 and I know that it wasn't available on the '03's with the PZEV. I assume that it may have required a new calibration based on weight changes since the PZEV is lighter - but it's not that much lighter. I was a big fan of that option when it was originally introduced - even at the price they were asking. There's simply no other car in it's class that came close to offering something so sophisticated.

If you're serious about the Volvo option, you should be able to practically steal a Volvo S/V40 right now - especially if you can include the Ford employee discount. It's not a great car, but it is a good one and you'd have another turbo to play around with.
My friend works for Volvo Design and built up this car with help from IPD and Brembo for the '01 SEMA show:



It's a little too low for my taste, but handles fairly well, goes very well and the stopping power of the Brembos is great!

>8^)
ER
 
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