Less Than A Second

Less Than A Second

He hits a tree; start the clock.

1/10 SECOND: The front bumper and chrome grillwork collapse. Slivers of steel penetrate the tree to the depth of an inch and a half or more.

2/10 SECOND: The hood rises, crumbles, and smashes into the windshield. Spinning rear wheels leave the ground. The fenders hit into the tree and force their rear parts out over the front door. The car's heavy structure members begin to slow down; but the driver keeps going at the vehicle's original speed. At 20 times the normal force of gravity, he weighs over a ton and half. His legs, ramrod straight, snap at the knees.

3/10 SECOND: The driver -- still alive -- is off the seat, body upright, broken knees pressing against the dashboard. His head is near the sun visor; his chest above the steering column. His convulsive death grip begins to bend the plastic and steel frame of the steering wheel.

4/10 SECOND: The car's front 24 inches are crushed, but the rear is still traveling at an estimated 35 m.p.h. The driver is still going 55. The half-ton motor block crunches into the tree. The rear of the car, like a bucking horse, rises high enough to scrape bark off low branches.

5/10 SECOND: The driver's clutching hands bend the steering column into an almost vertical position. The force of gravity impales him on the column. Jagged steel punctures his lungs and nearby arteries; blood spurts into his lungs.

6/10 SECOND: The driver's feet are ripped from his laced shoes. The brake pedal shears off at the floorboards. The chassis bends in the middle, shearing body bolts. The driver's head smashes into the windshield. The rear of the car begins to fall back down, spinning wheels digging into the ground.

7/10 SECOND: The whole body of the car is twisted and forced out of shape. Hinges tear; doors spring open. In one last convulsion, the seat rams forward, pinning the driver against the splintered steel steering column. Blood spurts from his mouth; shock freezes his heart. He is now dead.

Time elapsed: Seven-tenths of a second. And you say you are in a hurry?

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