The most important thing to know about this video is that no one involved was seriously injured. Not the driver of the BMW pulled over. Not the police officer. Not the person in the BMW Z4 that drives by. Not the moronic teen in an M3 going 120 MPH who almost killed a bunch of people for no good reason. The second most important thing to know is that this is not a weird BMW ad.
Here’s the video. Again, no one is seriously hurt.
This happened on Monday in Fairfax County, Virginia, on the Fairfax County Parkway in the middle of the day. The video you’re seeing above is from a dashcam from a county police officer who has a BMW 7-series pulled over. According to the local NBC affiliate, that car’s driver was ticketed for doing 70 mph in a 50 mph zone.
As you can see, the officer is quick-witted enough to spot the 2018 BMW M3 coming and get out of the way before it collides with the parked BMW. Somehow, an E89 BMW Z4 happens to just miss getting hit. The odds of all these BMWs being involved in one accident seems low until you remember this happened in Fairfax County, Virginia. No offense to any readers who live in the NOVA suburbs, but we all know you people and your defense lobbyist parents aren’t hurting for cash.
While I’ll credit the officer for good training and high situational awareness, it’s also a bit miraculous he was not seriously injured. According to Fairfax County Police, the BMW was traveling at a rate “well over 120 MPH” before hitting the cruiser and, though it had probably slowed before launching over the median, it’s still moving at a high rate of speed. It didn’t take long after getting hit for him to call for help and, as the video shows, bystanders pulled over to quickly help.
The driver of the car, who was 17, had two passengers in the car and was ticketed for reckless driving, which is a misdemeanor. (Editor’s note: Which is something they will send you to actual jail for in Virginia. A lot of people ask me, Patrick, is jail an experience you’d recommend? Should I try a stay in jail for myself? And my definitive answer is no, I do not recommend and no, you should not give it a go to see if you like it. -PG)
So what happened?
Here’s a GIF of the vehicle crossing the median. I cannot say with 100% accuracy that I know for sure what happened, but I have a pretty damn reasonable guess. Anyone who drives cars on track or has received motorsports driving instruction knows that your car, ultimately, is going to go where you look.
This teenage driver was traveling way too fast on the parkway, comes around the corner, and sees the police officer. The driver then does the one big thing you aren’t supposed to do in that situation: Lift. Or, perhaps, lift and some brake, but I don’t hear the brakes until he’s in the opposite lane of traffic.
It’s a classic case of target fixation mixed with some lift-off oversteer.
Obviously, the other cause of this is giving a 17-year-old who can’t drive worth a damn a car with a top speed of 155 mph. I don’t want to be too prescriptive about this, because I think people should generally be able to own the cars they want, and I’ve met young drivers who are totally capable of handling a car with 400+ horsepower (mostly race car drivers), but you can’t just give a teenager a land missile and just hope it’ll turn out right.
This is too much car for many adults and, certainly, most teenagers. If you want your kid to be a fast driver, don’t give them a fast car. Power covers up for a lot of driving deficiencies. Give them something slow and fun with a lot of feedback. A ten-year-old, base 3-series has plenty of power (an E90 makes like 230 hp), is safe, and is a great way to learn about oversteer. A five-year-old M3? Not so much.
I feel like I’m preaching to the choir, here, because most of our readers seem smart and responsible. Nevertheless, I will repeat: Don’t give your kids cars they can’t handle. You’re putting a weapon in their hands and you’re doing them a disservice.
Yup. Definitely a NOVA thing. This is like the third or fourth time a kid driving a BMW at rates of speed has wrecked, in the last 2 years. Miraculous no one was hurt. Last year a kid hit and killed two teenage girls and injured a third after losing control in Fairfax. https://www.nbcwashington.com/news/local/2-teens-dead-1-critically-injured-after-crash-in-fairfax-county/3071845/
Growing up where there’s lots of train tracks and we’re taught that stalling on a train track seems almost a when not an if scenario, I learned at a young age it’s best to run towards (but also away from at an angle) an incoming vehicle, that way you’re out of the path of both travel and likely debris from the impact. Officer should have jumped the guardrail and run along the direction of travel (or dove down below the berm, if available, but ahead of where the pulled-over vehicle is), ideally, but I’m glad he’s safe.
The twerp who caused the accident should get used to walking and bus passes for a few years.
Insane, unbelievable the cop and everyone else came out of that ok. No offense but how stupid are this kids parents? The F80 M3 is fast and not very forgiving if you turn off the traction/stability control. Hell, even a base model 3 series will run with the M3s of yesteryear. Not to sound like a grumpy old man at the ripe age of 38, but when i was in high school (’98-’02) we were able to get into all kinds of stupid car shenanigans with the 100hp-200hp shit boxes of the day, I remember us egging on my friend to see if he could hit 100mph, down-hill in his 80 hp Subaru, I managed 96mph in my mom’s ’94 astro van on the same stretch-an M3 would’ve hit what 155 mph? How do you keep teens safe when even a prius is pushing out what was once sports car acceleration. And that’s not even taking into account how fast most EVs are-do they make a parent/valet mode on any of them yet? I don’t have kids yet but seriously people in my age bracket, what cars are we going to get our teens in 15-20 years that aren’t way too fast for their own good? Maybe (though unlikely) there will be used Nissan Versas kicking around, maybe a Corolla?
Just by a car from the early 21st century, it’ll be old the paint may be damaged and it will probably need repairs, but all of those are good things when it comes to teenagers. Repairing things together forms a bond, gives them pride in their car and any dings in the bodywork are not a big deal.
So my friend purchased a used MB A220 sedan for her teen daughter with a very interesting spec. Basically no options with a base engine. Manual seats, etc but it had all of the safety tech. Radar cruise, lane departure warning, whatever the option is when the car will beep if you are braking too late, etc. The car forces you to drive appropriately due to all of the beeps. I think a car setup like that would probably be great for a first car. I would still prefer that someone learns on a manual transmission car that is slow but this setup has opened my mind to other options.
Really glad that officer got a chance to go home and launder his pants that day.
My first thought was also “why didn’t the officer jump the rail?” Then after watching the vid again I think he may have been trying to avoid being the meat in a BMW/Guardrail sammich, plus instinct could be to get out of the line of fire. Jumping the rail would have been closer to the Prometheus School Of Running Away From Things if the rail failed or the projectile car went over the top.
Unless at a track why would oversteer be a problem. Never encountered it myself AFAIK
That cop is very lucky. I don’t want to question anyone acting under reflex, but I’d like to think my move would have been to dive over the barrier. Nobody really knows how they’d react, though.
Agreed. In hindsight, the right move would have been to jump the guardrail, but then I could have just froze with two tons of out-to-control German engineering hurtling toward me.
Also of note, the DC metro is a place where Krispy Kreme meets Dunkin. He moves pretty well for a man who likely regularly frequents both. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Guardrail or not, it would seem sensible to run perpendicular to the coming missile. But by luck or understanding something that’s not evident on the video, he did good.
Oh wow. That is one hell of a code brown.
He’s got to be glad his uniform has dark pants, that’s for sure.
Yeah, I’d have definitely soiled myself on that one.
The officer is very lucky ,I think I would’ve jumped behind the gardrail instead of runing away, isn’t that what you are told to do.
I know you don’t have a lot of time to think in these situation but he was already close to the rail.
It’s also nice to know that guard rails work as intended.
He could have used a bit of their guarding. They’re obviously good at it.
So my take is he was carrying a tonne of speed into that curve, saw the police car, lifted off the throttle, and that used up all his driving skills at that point. I can’t believe the cop made it through
I think the kid stabbed the brakes in a panic, which caused the wheels to break loose from the pavement.
Word of advice kids: if you’re doing something stupid like going 100+ on the Fairfax County Parkway and see a cop, don’t freak out and try to get under the speed limit before you think he can see you. Just ease up on the throttle and come to a safe stop. You’ll still get a ticket, but you won’t kill anyone.
It could’ve easily been three Teslas instead of Bimmers. At least then the 17 year old numbnuts could’ve just blamed faulty AutoPilot or something.
He’d still be a numbnuts, though.