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Old 11-28-2011, 08:46 AM   #1
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The Retromobile Creamed a Mercedes

Friends, weigh in if you'd like.

Last night on I-20, I hit a car. Here is the blueprint.

Traffic moving slow - 10 to 15. Two cars in front of me abruptly moved out of the lane of traffic, and there was a Mercedes stopped dead in the road.

I reacted very fast, but could not stop the Suburban and airstream.
I hit him.

It would seem a car had hit the median on the left lane of traffic and officers were attempting to get traffic moving to one lane. The officer had stopped the mercedes in the road.

We are all fine (besides the UGH factor of hitting an $80,000 car)...and everyone loved the airstream by the way.

So here is the question of the day. Is this just the "cost of doing business" pulling a 5000 lb trailer? Is this "can't avoid a car stopped in the road"? Is this "don't drive the trailer in heavy rain"?

Thanks.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:01 AM   #2
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I would put it down as a "Its great that nobody got hurt". If all accidents were forseeable and avoidable there probably would not be so many of them.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:12 AM   #3
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Eaglemate

Glad that nobody was hurt. I would ask myself the question "could I have stopped in time if I was not towing the Airstream". If I believe that I could have stopped without the AS, then I would ask myself if the brakes were adequate or could they be improved? And then how to improve them? Were they out of adjustment or is the braking system inadequate? Do I need disc brakes? Lots of questions to ask and lessons to be learned from this accident. What if the Merc was not a car and was a motorcycle? Thanks for sharing.

Dan
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:33 AM   #4
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As far as your question about weather and road conditions, here's the rule I live by:

If conditions give me the feeling that I should slow down 5 mph while driving solo, I slow down double it if towing.

I don't care how good your trailer brakes are, there are other physical and PSYCHOLOGOICAL issues present when towing which make you and your rig act differently in foul weather or an emergency situation.

Listen to that "little voice" in your head. Mine has never let me down.

Just my personal experience and $.02.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:34 AM   #5
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Just out of curiousity

Did you get ticketed for "speed faster than reasonable or prudent?"

I've had that rolled out on me once when I skidded to a halt (pre-AS days) on a snow packed road to avoid a car that pulled out of front of me. I managed to go into a snowbank instead of the car but the cop who was watching the events unfold warned me that on snow covered road I shouldn't have been driving period, let alone the 15 mph and that he could have ticketed me for "speed faster than reasonable or prudent."

Haven't been in your shoes yet but have to wonder about not being able to stop from 10-15 mph in what amounts to 2 car lengths. In any event it provides a good cautionary tale for all of us in terms of what it may really take to stop TV and AS in a hurry.
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Old 11-28-2011, 09:57 AM   #6
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Questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eaglemate View Post
Friends, weigh in if you'd like.

Last night on I-20, I hit a car. Here is the blueprint.

Traffic moving slow - 10 to 15. Two cars in front of me abruptly moved out of the lane of traffic, and there was a Mercedes stopped dead in the road.

I reacted very fast, but could not stop the Suburban and airstream.
I hit him.

It would seem a car had hit the median on the left lane of traffic and officers were attempting to get traffic moving to one lane. The officer had stopped the mercedes in the road.

We are all fine (besides the UGH factor of hitting an $80,000 car)...and everyone loved the airstream by the way.

So here is the question of the day. Is this just the "cost of doing business" pulling a 5000 lb trailer? Is this "can't avoid a car stopped in the road"? Is this "don't drive the trailer in heavy rain"?

Thanks.
++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Some questions come to mind.


(1) What were the road conditions (rain, snow, sleet, etc)? How bad?


(2) You appear to have been two to three car links from the Mercedes when you saw him. What do you estimate your speed to have been at time of impact (Assuming that you could have stopped the Suburban by itself, was it a trailer brake issue)?

(3) How effective is your trailer brake controller at low speeds? My Ford ITBC becomes less agressive at low vehicle speeds.

(4) Did you have time to think of applying the trailer brakes manually, in order to obtain maximum braking on the trailer?

None of these questions are ment as criticisms. The intent is to see if anything might have been done differently.
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:30 AM   #7
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As the old saying goes. . .

"That's the way the Mercedes bends. . . "
.
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:40 AM   #8
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One must always drive defensively.
That means, in part, being able to see what is going on ahead of you.
If the vehicle in front of you is blocking your vision, then you are following to close.
When you are in heavy traffic, you need to observe all the traffic, around and ahead of you, and not just the vehicle in front.
You may have been able to change lanes also to avoid the stopped car if you were fully aware of what was around you.
Could you not see that there was something going on in the distance as you approached? There must have been brake lights flashing, as you say there was already an enforcement officer there.
Yes, we think driving is a pleasure, but it also requires diligence and skill to avoid the paper work involved when we have an incident.
Good luck with you situation. Glad there are no injuries.
Dave
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Old 11-28-2011, 10:47 AM   #9
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I feel your pain, been there done that! (similar) Since then I drive slower. While on multi-lane roads like the interstates, my max self imposed speed limit while towing is 55-60 mph. If I am on a two lane I try to be considerate and go with the flow, but leave extra distance in front.
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Old 11-28-2011, 12:46 PM   #10
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Some people don't believe there is ever such a thing as an Accident. I do. Don't beat yourself up too much. Have the best equipment you can reasonably afford, drive the best you can, and understand that sometimes enough is just not enough, and accidents do happen.
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Old 11-28-2011, 01:09 PM   #11
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I would double the 3 second following rule when pulling a trailer and make it 6 seconds. If the cop pulled the car you hit over were the lights flashing on the patrol car? If his lights were not on he is at fault. How much damage did you suffer?

We were supposed to be on I-65 leaving Florida yesterday and we decided to make the 650 mile drive in one day. We made the whole trip on Saturday in 12.5 hrs. I can't imagine what a nightmare it would have been if we had been driving in the rain on Sunday in Birmingham. People get crazy on Sunday trying to get home from Thanksgiving. Last year we had a road rage incident North of Birmingham when some guy tried to run us off the road. He got upset because I did not see him while making a lane change and he was trying to pass us on the right hand side of the road.

Perry
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Old 11-28-2011, 02:01 PM   #12
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Last NIGHT

I'm glad no one was hurt - and I also tow at night on occasion. It sounds like no one was going very fast, so hopefully the damages weren't too severe.

Hindsight? Disc vs. drum brakes - may not be the most important thing -adjustment of the brake controller might just be MORE important. Also last night the moon was a barely visible sliver in the sky. I DO tow at night under some circumstances but only with a nearly full moon in very clear weather. My night vision is still better than most people's but it's not as good as when I was 25. My doctor says most people who live long enough get cataracts, and the first, most frequently missed change is diminished night vision.

I'm not 100% sure I'm doing it right, but I always have my trailer brakes set to be a bit grabby. I want my trailer to be an anchor pulling me back rather than pushing me forward.

In those short distances - sooner or later you're going to be in trouble. I guess your number just came up. As I said earlier, at least no one was hurt.

Better days coming for you I hope, Paula
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Old 11-28-2011, 03:16 PM   #13
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Sometimes, crap happens.

I'd say it's at least partially your fault; you were unable to stop in time for an obstruction in the road. And, please understand that I've been in your shoes: I had a not-dissimilar accident in my B190 last year (there's a thread around here about it). I admit that I was at least half at fault in that situation, too. Most people probably would agree that the other driver should be at least partially at fault, but of course he lied to the insurance company about being in the lane, so all blame got pinned on me. I received a ticket for "failure to maintain lane" (I locked up the front brakes and slid out of the lane, into him).

Since then, I'm a LOT more tentative driving the camper. On our first trip after the accident in the B190 (when we weren't even towing a car), Erica said, "I still feel comfortable with you driving this." I said, "That makes one of us." I did eventually settle down somewhat, but I never got back to the point of relaxation that I had before the accident. I think that means I learned something.

We've since sold the B190 and bought a truck and trailer, and I am very careful to maintain a good distance. And in the stretch where we had the accident, I'm usually going 10-15 mph slower than the rest of traffic.

Learn from the experience, be glad no one was hurt, remember insurance is there for a reason, and try to move on.

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Originally Posted by Foiled Again View Post
I'm not 100% sure I'm doing it right, but I always have my trailer brakes set to be a bit grabby. I want my trailer to be an anchor pulling me back rather than pushing me forward.
I do, too. I figure sooner or later I'm going to want extra braking power, even if it means pads more often. That said, I don't want them so strong that they lock up.
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Old 11-28-2011, 05:04 PM   #14
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Again, glad nobody got hurt.. That is priority 1... Two thoughts to share from someone who has locked brakes a few times, and twice been driving in situations where I managed to allow the car behind me to hit the car in front of me, and escape undented to help with flares, etc...

The first lesson came from motorcycle course, which was that single most important variable you can control is empty space in front of you behind vehicle in front.. Even though that space may annoy those behind you who rush to fill it, it is your safety valve...

Second lesson involved tires and tractions and "Contact Patches".. On slippery road, the contact patches where rubber meets road are roughly 36 square inches each... If tow vehicle and trailer weigh 6 or 7 tons, moving at some constant velocity, then there ain't enough friction in the world spread across those little patches to stop you really quickly.. Old Mo... (Momentum) is just not going to depart very fast, regardless of brake controller setting, disks or drums, or even grades of tire rubber.. More reason to leave a cushion...

We get to watch every winter as folks in California with no clue about driving in snow buy 4WD Vehicles to avoiid Calif Mandatory Tire Chain controls in the mountains.. Just because they can obtain traction to move doesn't mean they stop even a foot sooner than folks with 2 wheel drive cars.. They just become 4 wheeled hockey pucks with passengers sliding into the snowbank or vehicle in front...

Last thought is it is fun and educational to try and test stopping power on road when nobody is around you.. Make sure you have safe cushion on sides, etc and try panic stopping on wet pavement to feel the difference.. It's enough for us that when raod actually is covered with snow or ice, the truck and trailer are parked...
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