Safety Improvements

Posts: 238
Joined: Tue Oct 28, 2008 6:40 pm
Organization: CIA
Graduation Year: 2000
Real Name: Shafeeq S

Safety Improvements

Postby shafeeq » Sun Apr 13, 2014 7:34 pm

Raceday 2014 had a lot of tight competition, some very exciting heats, some "rubbing-is-racing", a 3-wide finish, and some surprising placements. But, for me, it is going to be forever memorable for the absolutely horrific crash that Banyan had as Fringe Women's C. It was out of the view of CMUtv and most of the crowd, and I and any other photographer with a clear view were too busy running to get out of the way of the buggy.

Basically, Banyan hit the curb of Schenley Drive at a near perpendicular angle, at speed. This was far enough downhill of the chute that there were no haybales. The buggy stopped instantly against the curb. The driver continued forwards, coming to rest with her helmet at or near the nose of the buggy. I do not know if the helmet hit the curb, but it certainly hit the inside of the hatch with enough force to detach the hatch and windshield and propel them several feet forwards onto the sidewalk. It was by far the most violent crash I've ever seen, and people who've been watching since the 60's said the same. The driver was taken to the hospital by ambulance, and the only rumor I've heard is that she was expected to be kept overnight and suffer no lasting injury. If that is the case, either drivers are more durable than I imagined, or she was very lucky.

There's nothing obvious about this accident that is specific to Fringe - it could've been any other team instead, and some of those may have done better, and some worse. No doubt, a crash like this will happen again to someone. In the interest of that future driver, I call on Fringe to be open and honest with the rest of the buggy community about how Banyan's driver protection performed, so that other teams can decide whether their own buggies have weaknesses that need to be improved.

In particular, did the harness perform as designed, and if not, why?
Drivers are pretty similar across all teams, thus harnesses are largely similar across teams too.
I would not have believed a properly fastened harness could permit so much forward movement, but if the harness in fact stretched so far, then it doesn't bode well for any team that uses a similar harness in a buggy with a front wheel.

In retrospect, it is probably not a good idea to have the traditional CIA alumni area and parked cars on the bridge. I hope the driver was not trying to use the bridge as a runoff only to find it blocked.

Posts: 34
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 4:18 pm
Organization: SigNu
Graduation Year: 2000
Real Name: Ian McCullough

Re: Safety Improvements

Postby ipmcc » Tue Apr 15, 2014 3:37 pm

As far as I can remember, the bridge has never been viable as a runoff area. If nothing else, the pushbar is gonna hit the sawhorse, which for some designs could even further reduce control and stopping ability.

It was a pretty gnarly wreck. I was really glad to see she was wiggling toes and all of that good stuff when they got her out. It was certainly the most kinetic buggy impact I've ever seen.

That said, I came away from it with a different set of questions than Shafeeq: Why did she miss the turn? Why couldn't she brake? If there was a simultaneous steering *and* brake failure, getting a root cause analysis on that seems like job one (at least for folks with similar steering and braking mechanisms.)

I'm not saying we shouldn't advance the art in terms of restraints and helmets, but to play Devil's Advocate for a minute: one could reasonably argue that if indeed she wasn't seriously injured (in what people seem to agree is among the most serious of possible buggy accidents) that in the end the safety system achieved its goal.

Not that this'll happen, but I'd be most interested to hear what the driver had to say about it.

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