The following was originally a public service message, by the Georgia Paramedics Against Drunk Drivers, published in the Adirondack Advertiser and later reprinted by Dear Abby about 10 years ago. Abby suggested that her readers make several copies and pass them out to those passengers who were reluctant to fasten their seat belts. Nowadays, airbags would probably be far more effective in protecting both the passenger and (especially) the driver in a scenario such as the one described, and the wisdom of conveying to ones passengers the obvious subtextual message ('Uh...if you don't mind, I'm driving drunk this and buckle up.') must be questioned. Nevertheless, I am passing this shocking information along, in the interest of a better public understanding of Newton's First Law of Motion, with some modest changes: Out of consideration for the sensitive reader who may have lost a loved one in an automobile accident, I have edited all references regarding "the driver" to now read "Hello Kitty".

by the Georgia Paramedics Against Drunk Drivers

Do you know what happens in the first fatal second after a car going 55 miles per hour hits a solid object?

  1. In the first 10th of a second, the front bumper and grill collapse.
  2. The second 10th finds the hood crumbling[sic], rising and striking the windshield as the spinning rear wheels lift from the ground. Simultaneously, fenders begin wrapping themselves around the solid object.
    Although the car's frame has been halted, the rest of the car is still going 55 miles per hour. Instinct causes Hello Kitty to stiffen her legs against the crash, and they snap at the knee joint.
  3. During the third 10th of the second, the steering wheel starts to disintegrate[??] and the steering column aims for Kitty's chest.
  4. The fourth 10th of the second finds two feet of the car's front end wrecked, while the rear end still moves at 35 miles per hour. Hello Kitty's body is still travelling at 55 miles per hour.
  5. In the fifth tenth of a second, Hello Kitty is impaled on the steering column, and blood rushes into her lungs.
  6. The sixth tenth of a second, the impact has built up to the point that Kitty's feet are ripped out of tightly laced shoes. The brake pedal breaks off.
    The car frame buckles in the middle. Kitty's head smashes into the windshield as the rear wheels, still spinning, fall back to earth.
  7. In the seventh 10th of the second, hinges rip loose, doors fly open and the seats break free, striking Hello Kitty from behind.
  8. The seat striking Hello Kitty does not bother her because she is already dead. The last three-tenths of the second mean nothing to Kitty.

Grisly, isn't it? My advice, as the survivor of a serious motorcycle accident, is to always drive a convertible so you'll be thrown clear of the wreck--and wear a helmet. Please be sure your passengers read this before getting in a car with you, and don't forget to give Hello Kitty a hug tonight.

Update, 06/23/08: The information about what happens in the first 10 tenths of a second of an auto accident has also appeared in an episode of the TV series Dragnet '67, virtually word-for-word. Whether or not that would be the original appearance of this information in this format, I have not been able to ascertain... but it seems likely.

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