After spending a preposterous amount of time rebooting my laptop and a less preposterous amount of time obsessing over the minutiae of weird Canadian-market E46 BMW 320is and E90 BMW 323is, the gods of the Interballs gave me a gold mine of content in the form of a quick video where heaps of poor drivers experience understeer in a rather pricey manner. How so? By overcooking an exit ramp harder than Clark Griswold’s Christmas turkey and sending it straight into the barrier. Here, have a look.
Bam! Right off the road, leaving a trail of debris and sometimes sparks in their wake. It’s not just the poor judgment in this video that gets me, it’s the awful car control that follows. Check out the white 3-Series at the 15 second mark. Not only does the driver trim every single plant by the roadside, they don’t even stop until they smack into the left quarter panel of some poor sod’s Ram. It’s a similar deal with the red Mazda CX-5 at the 52 second mark which just keeps on going, brake lamps unlit, until it’s almost cleared the intersection. You know that pedal to the left of the throttle? If you’re having an off, stamp on the damn thing like you’re trying to fend off a rabid weasel.
If one idiot has a crash, it’s exclusively poor driving. If two idiots have near-identical crashes, it’s a fluke. If three or more idiots have near-identical crashes, it’s time to evaluate the infrastructure. Let’s pull up the crash scene on Google Maps so we can get a better picture of what’s going on.
Welcome to the scene of the crashes, the southbound I-5 Union Street exit ramp in Seattle. I’ll admit, I’ve seen my fair share of weird highway exits, but this one’s particularly crappy. The exit starts in an underpass, then kinks left before a very sharp blind right with an intersection basically right at the end of the tunnel. As far as sightlines go here, they’re pretty awful. While there are signs warning of an upcoming traffic light and recommending a 20 mph (30 km/h) exit ramp speed, the speed warning signs are placed fairly deep in the corner and aren’t the easiest things to read. Regardless, combining the speed-numbing visuals of an underpass with the terrible sightlines of a blind corner is a bad idea, and that’s before we even get to weather.
Aside from Frasier, grunge music and depression, what is Seattle is famous for? Rain. You know where it doesn’t rain? In tunnels. While most of the drivers in this video wipe out in fairly dry conditions, let’s turn our attention to the crash at the 1:26 mark, where the streets are slick with freshly-fallen moisture. Not only does this Tesla-driving jabroni overcook the turn and hit the wall, once their Silicon Valley shitbox rebounds off of the wall, it continues sliding and rotating for quite a while, completing a full 180-degree rotation and a rare double curb-tap. Bravo moron, not even your stability control could keep you pointed straight.
In the end, all of these crashes could have been prevented by following one simple mantra – drive in an appropriate manner. If you’re familiar enough with your car and an exit ramp, feel free to trail-brake it in and enjoy some Gs at appropriate speeds if no other traffic is around. Otherwise, caution is a good thing to exercise. But hey, I’m not your father. Take off-ramps however you want, just remember that you might suffer some consequences if you get too cocky. In the immortal words of Red Forman, “The reason that bad things happen to you is because you’re a dumbass.”
Video credit: Michael B