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Volvo 850 Totaled With Praise To Its Manufacturing.
Kern County, CA

This Report: Photo 2

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Volvo crashed bad

Hard to classify what happened to my Volvo as it was a mixture of sliding, two-wheeling, rolling, flipping/flying, etc.

I was driving a 1993 Volvo 850 GLT down in Kern County, across the 138 freeway, at the end of March, 2008.

Was driving down the 138 Freeway (connecting the I-5 and 14 Freeways down in Southern California), which is essentially a out in the middle of nowhere  two-laned road lined with gravel. I had steered two wheels off the right side of the road to avoid something that had come out in front of my car from going under my wheel. May have instantly panicked once I heard the gravel, I couldn't tell you now.  But in trying to correct myself, I instinctively turned the wheel left to put me back on the road which put put my car out of control as the back end whipped back across the highway to the other side. I was going 60mph at the time (road speed limit was 55). By the time the car reached the other side of the two lane road, I was up on two wheels (passenger side). The rear passenger side tire hits a small embankment off the left side of the road, which flips my car onto the passenger side, breaking the passenger side mirror. My car then is rolled/flipped onto the opposite side, similarly breaking the drivers side mirror. This impact launches my car into the air, over a dirt service road, about 20 feet. I landed, upside down, front driver side corner down (the biggest impact). Beyond that, in checking out remaining debris, I proceeded to get rolled (don't know for sure) for another 50-60' to its final resting place with the driver's side up, undercarriage primarily facing the road.

I by some sheer miracle ONLY ended up with injuries amounting from the airbags deployment, my driver's window shattering and the seatbelt doing a damn good job of keeping me strapped in throughout my 100-120' or so feet of tumbling and flying.   After seeing the car I thought "Oh it really wasn't as bad as what I remembered".  But then I saw the actual site and pieced the event together....scary stuff as my car went through a lot. Obviously could have been a lot worse. I wasn't knocked out  (or if I was it was a momentary stunned moment). Even with the impact inflicted upon the drivers front corner, my legs were in no way trapped at all. Upon coming to a stop, I had a quick "That did NOT happen!" thought before unhooking my seatbelt and maneuvering to the bottom (well passenger) part of the car and ducking out of the the windshield (or lack thereof as it had popped free).    Must have been an interesting site to passerbys as I came stumbling out out nowhere (the car was almost completely blocked in view from the road by the bushes/trees and was like 50' from the road).  In total it was like a 160' journey from the time I initially lost control to where I landed, with the path going within 10' of a telephone poll.

Granted I was lucky because my trajectory took me within 10' of hitting a telephone poll, I didn't hit anything/anyone else....that is true.  But overall I am just so thankful the seatbelt and airbags did their job nicely.  Sure the airbags only really helped in the major impact but the seatbelt helped me with the rest (pretty good considering once I hit the embankment I was more or less always upside down).  Surprisingly the damage was all centered on the front, with the exception of a jacked rightrear tire (initial embankment) and a slightly warped trunk lid.  There was evidence around the rest of the body though to indicate the rolling.

Had anyone witnessed it, I am sure it was quite a sight.  Wasn't issued a ticket or anything at the time although I don't know if any further action will come of it.  It's scary because it's not so much an issue of reckless driving but more of a lack of experience driving (as in what to do when you're in a potential position to lose control like that).  I've been lucky though.  Absolutely none of the soreness everyone said I was going to have ever happened.  I haven't had anxiety upon driving or nightmares about anything (still remember the sounds and the sensation of feeling like my body was flopping around).  I'm so glad I had no conscious idea of what my car went through though beyond [now] vague memories.  It was over so fast my brain had no time to register anything beyond "Oh my god!"

It is certainly a testimony to 1) The durability of Volvo's and 2) Wearing your seatbelt!!  Everything is out of your hands at that point so a seat belt is often going to be the only thing between you and a worse fate.

The second photo is a view of the path of my car once it came off the left side of the road.  Ended up way past the second brush from the left, with the dirt road coming from behind the pole being the one I was launched over.  The initial impact on the embankment is at the front towards the right, just left of the pole. Kerry M.

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