I had a collision today

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Well, I was in a collision today. My 1995 Toyota Avalon is damaged on the front driver's side. I was coming home from the university during rush hour and I decided to take the expressway to avoid traffic lights. The route was essentially the same, except I replaced a segment of it that has a few dozen traffic lights with a slightly longer route that had none. Upon exiting the expressway, I took the service road to take a specific exit that took me to the parkway that I would have went onto the other way, but I did not make it. The exit goes into sort of a loop with trees blocking direct visibility of the road ahead. If you look at aerial imagery of the intersection of two major highways or a simple map, such a thing would resemble a four petal flower or bow, with the exits/entrances being on the edges of the pedals/ribbon. Anyway, I reduced my velocity from 55 mph to 45 mph, the speed limit as indicated by a sign. 2-5 seconds before the collision, I looked down at my speedometer and verified that I was traveling at 45 mph. I looked up at the street ahead and everything was normal. Then, I saw brake lights ahead and applied my brakes. The right lane (I was in the left) was more clear, so I checked to see if I could move over to it. I checked my mirror and my blind spot, I turned on my signal and began to move over. I looked ahead again, only to see another vehicle rapidly approaching mine and I realized that it was at a complete stop. I applied pressure to the brake pedal as hard as I could. When I was 10 feet away from the other vehicle, the ABS disengaged and I could hear the tires screeching. I narrowly avoided missing the vehicle, with the first foot of the driver side of my bumper striking the rear bumper of the other vehicle's passenger side. I heard a bop-like noise. I was in shock as the front of my vehicle had struck another vehicle. The cars ahead of the one mine struck then started to move. The driver of that car moved forward and over to the side of the road and I followed, parking behind her. She went out of her car first. I turned off my high beams, my radio and then my car. I got out of my car and went over to her, asking her if she was okay, if everyone was okay and if there was anyone else in her vehicle. She replied that she was fine and that there was no one with her in her vehicle. To cut a long story short, her vehicle and my Avalon's front bumper both sustained minimal damage, being scoffed at best. The rest of my Avalon, however, was not so lucky. The driver-side headlight was smashed, the hood was bent, the forward part of the driver's side (between the front wheels and the bumper) was warped and a piece of metal (which I believe was from the wheel well) was making contact with the tire. After the officer at the scene told me to move my car, I drove it along the exit/entrance ramp over to the side of the road out of traffic, but it was towed due to the piece of metal making contact with the tire. I was told that it was a "fender bender." The air bags did not deploy. Given that the ABS disengages at 30 mph and that I was 10 ft from her car when I started hearing the tires screech, I estimate that the impact velocity was 20 mph, which meant that the airbags had no reason to deploy. My seat belt performed its function marvelously. My parents came to pick me up, the officer at the scene wrote a police report and the woman from Geico told my mother over the phone that it was "unusual for someone so young to be such a good driver." Despite that, I feel terrible. Not only did I damage my beloved car, the car in which my late grandfather rode with me when I was young, the car that has been in my family for 12 years (and two generations), I inconvenienced another human being who was just going about her day. And not only did I do that, but I should have avoided the collision and failed to avoid it. When I looked forward again after beginning an avoidance maneuver as a safety precaution and saw that her vehicle was at a standstill, I realized that at the then current rates of change of my vehicle's position and velocity, the cars were going to collide in a very short period of time. If I had turned the wheel somewhat more than I did (and I could have), I would have avoided the collision altogether and we would have both been free to go about our days, but instead I turned the wheel only slightly more than I already had and froze, causing the collision. I have been thinking that if the speed limit was 40 mph instead of 45 mph, my Avalon's brakes' energy absorption would have caused a much greater reduction in velocity, such that I would have been approaching her vehicle at a lower velocity, not froze and had the necessary time to respond. I have also thought that if my Avalon had better brakes, I would have also been able to avoid the collision. I cannot change the past, but I know that I can change the future. I plan to go home by routes that give me better visibility of the road ahead from now on (those include every route but that one, which my mother had thought was a dangerous route because of the particular point where the collision occurred, several months before the collision occurred) and after my Avalon is repaired, I would like to upgrade its brakes, so that I will be able to avoid collisions in similar situations, should I ever find myself in one. I want the brakes' longevity to remain the same, but their force of friction to be enhanced. I believe that this could be done with special disc brakes that cover the entire disc to maximize their surface area, which will help, because while surface area does not affect the brakes' frictional force, it does affect the rate at which the brakes' temperature increases, which can affect the brakes' frictional force, particularly when the brakes' contact surface melts/sublimates (I am not sure whether they turn into a gas or a liquid) lubricating the discs. While that does not necessarily cause a brake failure as one might think as a result of the rates of cooling of the brakes, the rate of evacuation of the created lubricant, etcetera, it should modify the brakes' constant of friction, making it smaller, making the brakes apply a smaller force, making the braking distance increase from its theoretical value. I recall reading about such brakes at some site about car bibles, so they should exist. That leaves the question, does such a brake upgrade exist for my Toyota Avalon?
 
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why did the abs turn off at 30mph? i never heard of this. every car i have driven with abs it has worked all the way to a dead stop. in fact i just went out and tested my stratus after reading what you typed. sure enough that sucker thumps away until the car comes to a stop. don't worry about brake upgrades. you're brakes were not the problem here. i had a friend that got into a bad accident with me in the car. right after the accident i remember him saying how he no longer deserves to drive, and in the future he will only drive scooters. well like a week later after he felt better he was driving again. obviously you don't have this much remorse but you do seem to have accident guilt on you're conscience. give it a week or 2 and you will calm down.
 
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glad everyone was ok, but why were you driving with your high beams on? changing lanes during rush hour is a bad idea. everyone is trying to get in front of the next car. It amazes me. I typically catch up with these drivers at the next stop light.
 
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I'm sorry to hear about your Avalon. An accident is definitely a scary experience. One time I was on the way home from class in my old car and I was at a red light about to turn right. The car in front of me had plenty of time and room to go, and it started to move forward so I moved forward, expecting it to go. The moment I let my eye off the car in front of me to check to the left to see if any cars were coming from that way, he slammed on his brakes and by time I slammed mine on, it was too late. Even though it was only about 5-10mph and did no damage to either of our cars, it scared the heck out of me. I like to consider myself a very cautious driver too, but you can never be too careful.
 
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ShiningArcanine

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 Originally Posted By: Master ACiD
why did the abs turn off at 30mph? i never heard of this. every car i have driven with abs it has worked all the way to a dead stop. in fact i just went out and tested my stratus after reading what you typed. sure enough that sucker thumps away until the car comes to a stop. don't worry about brake upgrades. you're brakes were not the problem here. i had a friend that got into a bad accident with me in the car. right after the accident i remember him saying how he no longer deserves to drive, and in the future he will only drive scooters. well like a week later after he felt better he was driving again. obviously you don't have this much remorse but you do seem to have accident guilt on you're conscience. give it a week or 2 and you will calm down.
It was determined that ABS does not provide an appreciable additional safety benefit below 30 mph to merit its use, so most cars with ABS are designed to disengage it when the car goes below 30 mph. At least that is what they told me in my driver's ed class. As for the brakes, I was at the speed limit. By law the collision is my fault, but if my brakes extracted a greater power from my vehicle's motion, the collision would have been less severe or it might not have happened, which is why I am interested in getting a brake upgrade.
 Originally Posted By: Cutehumor
glad everyone was ok, but why were you driving with your high beams on? changing lanes during rush hour is a bad idea. everyone is trying to get in front of the next car. It amazes me. I typically catch up with these drivers at the next stop light.
If I had floored the brake pedal instead of trying to change lanes while applying some pressure to the brakes, the collision would have either been at a much lower velocity or it might not have happened, but I had no way of knowing that the cars had come to a complete stop until moments after I first sighted them. Until then, I thought that they were in the process of stopping, so I would have not floored the brakes immediately in the event I had not checked to see if I could change lanes, although I probably would have at a lower collision velocity if I had not tried changing lanes. As for my high beams, some of the roads I drive on when I leave the university have no lighting (and there is not much I can do about this), so I turn my high beams on. I typically do not bother to turn them off.
 Originally Posted By: ThirdeYe
I'm sorry to hear about your Avalon. An accident is definitely a scary experience. One time I was on the way home from class in my old car and I was at a red light about to turn right. The car in front of me had plenty of time and room to go, and it started to move forward so I moved forward, expecting it to go. The moment I let my eye off the car in front of me to check to the left to see if any cars were coming from that way, he slammed on his brakes and by time I slammed mine on, it was too late. Even though it was only about 5-10mph and did no damage to either of our cars, it scared the heck out of me. I like to consider myself a very cautious driver too, but you can never be too careful.
Assuming our cars weigh the same amount, the collision you had involved approximately 4 to 16 times less energy than the one I had today. I am not surprised there was no damage. If your collision had been at 2.5 mph, it would have involved approximately 64 times less energy.
 
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Sorry about your accident and I know how you feel. But, think of this - #1 it's over so move on #2 Driver's ed lied to you because no cars' ABS disengages under 30mph #3 While you may feel bad for ruining an innocent person's car and day, you handled it with integrity and respect and took responsibilty. That's more than most people do IF THEY EVEN STOP after an accident. and lastly #4 Turn off your freakin' highbeams before you cause another accident! Seriously - you'll be fine in a few days. Happens to the best of us. Be glad its only metal damage and not human flesh.
 
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The ABS system is active when the car reaches 5 mph (Toyota, it's in the manual). Once active, it will remain active until speeds drop below 5 mph. Even with ABS engaged (during hard braking), you will still hear the "screeching" of the tires as the ABS system modulates the brakes from a locked to unlocked condition. Glad that everyone is relatively OK. Damage can be fixed.
 
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My advice is not to spend too much time obsessing over what happened and why. These things happen to the best of us. If there's anything driving-wise you could have done better to avoid the accident, just file that away in the back of your head and move on. Don't worry about vehicle upgrades. You'll probably never truly benefit from such a thing.
 
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This experience was (probably) the best upgrade that you can acquire. I'll speculate that you'll be prepared for the next blind off ramp/curve after this experience. Many of us managed to avoid such things with reflexes/skill and just plain dumb luck. We also eventually figured out that we couldn't keep that edge forever and that odds were going to catch up to us sooner or later ..and adapted to our lack of mastery of the environment. I'm just not in a hurry anymore. That doesn't mean that I don't drive fast on 4 lanes and whatnot. I just don't "rush" to get anywhere. I don't need the wear and tear of pinpoint stops ...where I applied just the right amount of progressive braking to bring me to my anticipated stop in the fastest amount of time. I coast to stops to save brakes and fuel. Time isn't the only truly non-renewable resource. Your health is right up there with it. I'm glad everyone was not hurt.
 

ShiningArcanine

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 Originally Posted By: Matt_S
My advice is not to spend too much time obsessing over what happened and why. These things happen to the best of us. If there's anything driving-wise you could have done better to avoid the accident, just file that away in the back of your head and move on. Don't worry about vehicle upgrades. You'll probably never truly benefit from such a thing.
I am not going to drive that way home again and I will drive below the speed limit on ramps that have 45mph speed limits, although I would still like to do a brake upgrade which would have ensured that if I had both thought of doing and did before the collision, the collision would have been less severe or might not have happened.
 
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I have trouble convincing people why I slow to 20 mph when going over hills, if I can't see every foot of road surface 2 seconds ahead of me. I don't want to run over any beer bottles, or other junk. It's very hard to monitor visibility all the time, and pay attention to everyting else moving around you. Your brakes worked as much as the tires would let them. When the ABS kicks in, it's the tires that have let go, not the brakes. Good tires are important. After about three years, the rubber seems to lose its stickiness. Some tires, such as low profile, or the higher speed rated ones, give better steering response, so the car will respond better in last-minute emergency manoeuvres. Good tire pressure also makes for better steering response, up until the tires start bouncing off the pavement at bumps. Pulsating brakes, on the other hand, can increase stopping distance if you have ABS, since one wheel will lock up first and activate the ABS even though the other three wheels are only at 75% braking. If the brakes don't work smoothly on all four wheels, they should be fixed. p.s. don't buy oval brake drums from China.
 
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I would like to comment regarding your brake upgrade. First, any driver should be aware of his/her vehicle capacities and limitations. You need to drive within the limits of your braking system. My concern is that if you do indeed upgrade your brakes, you may still out drive them. Until recently, I drove a Suburban. Now that Suburban had very long stopping distances. My wife has an X5 that I drive sometimes and it's brakes are supurb. Know what? I drive these two vehicles in a much different manner keeping in mind the braking characteristics of each. OK, you had an accident. Sounds like it was avoidable. You were too close to the vehicle in front of you. You couldn't get your Avalon stopped in time. It really doesn't matter if you have ABS or not, or whether the ABS leaves the scene at 30 MPH. The point is, know your vehicle and it's limitations, and drive accordingly. Safe driving, Joat
 
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Bottom line, your accident happened from inexperience. Excessive speed (no matter what the speed limit) was the cause and thats driver error. You saying about leaving high beams on tells volumes about your experience level. Don't overthink it to death, just learn from it. You aren't the first to have this happen to you (and it has NEVER happened to me!...right) and you won't be the last. Sounds like you learned from it. All the brake upgrades in the world wont cover judgement inexperience. It happens. Advice from above is invaluable, learn from it.
 
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if you heard a touch of screeching from the tyres then a brake upgrade will not decrease you're stopping distance. there is really 2 limitations to a typical passenger car. tyre grip, and brake power. most cars have powerful enough brakes to lock up all 4 tyres if they didn't have abs. so upgrading the brakes will do nothing for these cars under an emergency stop. a brake upgrade may prevent brake fade ruing extended starts and stops like when auto crossing. but a single panic stop isn't enough to cause brake fade. the second limitation, tyre grip. this is something you can do to decrease braking distnace. grab some grippier tyres which will decrease the amount of abs modulation that is used during a panic stop. this results in decreased brake distance. but as it is, if you can hear a little tyre screeching as you indicated that you heard below 30mph then all the brake work in the world wont make you're stopping distance shorter as you're limitation is the tyres not the brakes! good luck and i think the drivers ed class is wrong. you can test this you're self by going out and doing a panic stop from 45mph. you should feel the brake petal pulse all the way until the car stops moving. this is epically and i do mean EPICALLY prevalent on grass, better yet wet grass.
 
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The truth is on your braking issues is that a better upgrade in theory is decent tires. Not sure if you have cheapo third tier ones or high performance premium tires. However sometimes its still not enough. Personally I have not paid attention a few times in my life without ABS and junky brakes(95 Civic) but lucky that my car actually skidded safelyt off into the breakdown lane. Glad you were not hurt. Your Avalon is a total based on your description of damage. Remember 75% of wholesale value = TOTAL. You can of course pay out of pocket to repair it beyond the check received if any and get a marked title. Don't fret its just a car and easily replaceable one at that.
 

ShiningArcanine

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 Originally Posted By: oilyriser
I have trouble convincing people why I slow to 20 mph when going over hills, if I can't see every foot of road surface 2 seconds ahead of me. I don't want to run over any beer bottles, or other junk. It's very hard to monitor visibility all the time, and pay attention to everyting else moving around you. Your brakes worked as much as the tires would let them. When the ABS kicks in, it's the tires that have let go, not the brakes. Good tires are important. After about three years, the rubber seems to lose its stickiness. Some tires, such as low profile, or the higher speed rated ones, give better steering response, so the car will respond better in last-minute emergency manoeuvres. Good tire pressure also makes for better steering response, up until the tires start bouncing off the pavement at bumps. Pulsating brakes, on the other hand, can increase stopping distance if you have ABS, since one wheel will lock up first and activate the ABS even though the other three wheels are only at 75% braking. If the brakes don't work smoothly on all four wheels, they should be fixed. p.s. don't buy oval brake drums from China.
The tires were brand new Michelin MXV4 Energy Plus tires. They were installed on May 19, 2007 when the car had 99,253 miles on it. My last fill-up was on November 8, 2007 when the car had 112,045 miles on it. The tires I had installed were the same tires that Toyota puts on new Toyota Avalons and Camrys; they are also recommended by Consumer Reports in their performance all-season category.
 Originally Posted By: joatmon
I would like to comment regarding your brake upgrade. First, any driver should be aware of his/her vehicle capacities and limitations. You need to drive within the limits of your braking system. My concern is that if you do indeed upgrade your brakes, you may still out drive them. Until recently, I drove a Suburban. Now that Suburban had very long stopping distances. My wife has an X5 that I drive sometimes and it's brakes are supurb. Know what? I drive these two vehicles in a much different manner keeping in mind the braking characteristics of each. OK, you had an accident. Sounds like it was avoidable. You were too close to the vehicle in front of you. You couldn't get your Avalon stopped in time. It really doesn't matter if you have ABS or not, or whether the ABS leaves the scene at 30 MPH. The point is, know your vehicle and it's limitations, and drive accordingly. Safe driving, Joat
There was no vehicle in front of me until I saw the brake lights. Cars were stopped on the roundabout and tree cover prevented me from seeing them.
 Originally Posted By: c502cid
Bottom line, your accident happened from inexperience. Excessive speed (no matter what the speed limit) was the cause and thats driver error. You saying about leaving high beams on tells volumes about your experience level. Don't overthink it to death, just learn from it. You aren't the first to have this happen to you (and it has NEVER happened to me!...right) and you won't be the last. Sounds like you learned from it. All the brake upgrades in the world wont cover judgement inexperience. It happens. Advice from above is invaluable, learn from it.
I have been driving every week day for two years since my car had about 50,000 miles on it. My relatives consider me to be an experienced driver. What got me was the fact that I was driving on the only roundabout of which I know that has a 45 mph speed limit and I had to respond to vehicles that I could not see because of tree cover until I was almost on top of them. On an ordinary highway, I would not have been in any danger of a collision. I trusted that the government set speed limit would give me adequate time to properly respond to other vehicles (so long as I maintain an adequate distance between my Avalon's front and another car's rear provided there is another car), even when vehicles are at a complete stop, in any circumstance. I never thought that it would be set too high.
 Originally Posted By: Master ACiD
if you heard a touch of screeching from the tyres then a brake upgrade will not decrease you're stopping distance. there is really 2 limitations to a typical passenger car. tyre grip, and brake power. most cars have powerful enough brakes to lock up all 4 tyres if they didn't have abs. so upgrading the brakes will do nothing for these cars under an emergency stop. a brake upgrade may prevent brake fade ruing extended starts and stops like when auto crossing. but a single panic stop isn't enough to cause brake fade. the second limitation, tyre grip. this is something you can do to decrease braking distnace. grab some grippier tyres which will decrease the amount of abs modulation that is used during a panic stop. this results in decreased brake distance. but as it is, if you can hear a little tyre screeching as you indicated that you heard below 30mph then all the brake work in the world wont make you're stopping distance shorter as you're limitation is the tyres not the brakes! good luck and i think the drivers ed class is wrong. you can test this you're self by going out and doing a panic stop from 45mph. you should feel the brake petal pulse all the way until the car stops moving. this is epically and i do mean EPICALLY prevalent on grass, better yet wet grass.
In the past, I have had to come to complete stops during rush hour traffic on major highways and I was able to do so without incident and with excess room between my Avalon and the car ahead. The ABS always disengages when the speed reaches 30 mph. From 55 mph to 30 mph, the car brakes with the ABS functioning flawlessly. From 30 mph to 0, the car brakes without the ABS.
 Originally Posted By: rjundi
The truth is on your braking issues is that a better upgrade in theory is decent tires. Not sure if you have cheapo third tier ones or high performance premium tires. However sometimes its still not enough. Personally I have not paid attention a few times in my life without ABS and junky brakes(95 Civic) but lucky that my car actually skidded safelyt off into the breakdown lane. Glad you were not hurt. Your Avalon is a total based on your description of damage. Remember 75% of wholesale value = TOTAL. You can of course pay out of pocket to repair it beyond the check received if any and get a marked title. Don't fret its just a car and easily replaceable one at that.
The warped metal along the side is between the wheel and the front. The warping is where the metal comes into contact with the front driver's side edge of the hood, where it bends a bit outward. The wheel well appears normal, but part of it is barely touching the tire. Both can be put back into place with the proper body-work. The only other damage I could see which will need to be corrected would be the replacement of the headlight assembly (including the bulb) and the hood. The hood seems to be damaged because of how the metal on side of the car at the very front behaved. Ironically, the bumper has no damage unless you consider the damage to the paint. There might be some more damage, but it should be concentrated to a small area because I had tried to avoid the other car. I doubt that the repair costs will exceed $4000 and my car's resale value prior to the collision was a little over $5000 earlier this year. I would expect the insurance company to pay for the repairs rather than declare my Avalon to be a total loss.
 
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 Quote:
It was determined that ABS does not provide an appreciable additional safety benefit below 30 mph to merit its use, so most cars with ABS are designed to disengage it when the car goes below 30 mph. At least that is what they told me in my driver's ed class.
Are you sure about this? Perhaps you were thinking about electronic stability control?
 

ShiningArcanine

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 Originally Posted By: Throckmorton
 Quote:
It was determined that ABS does not provide an appreciable additional safety benefit below 30 mph to merit its use, so most cars with ABS are designed to disengage it when the car goes below 30 mph. At least that is what they told me in my driver's ed class.
Are you sure about this? Perhaps you were thinking about electronic stability control?
No. My driver's education class specifically mentioned ABS.
 
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Strange... every car with ABS I have driven, Mazda, Toyota, Honda, GM, Ford have ABS engaged during a hard stop all the way down to very very low speeds, evident by the pulsating brake pedal. 30 mph doesn't sound very right. The roads here in Australia can get very slick as we don't get much rain. A small shower will lift the oil residue and cause the surfaces to be extra slippery. Stopping quick for a set of lights usually means ABS engaging.
 
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I'm pretty sure he's thinking of either traction control or stability control, not ABS. Maybe the person who wrote the text for his drivers ed class got it wrong.
 
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