Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Tyler J Alitz, 20, in Concordia, KS, Killed in Car vs. Pickup Crash

Who:
Tyler J Alitz, 20, was killed in Concordia, KS, just after 4PM on Wednesday, 5/21/14. He drove a 2000 purple Toyota Avalon and collided head-on with a 2014 Dodge Ram pickup that hauled three vehicles on a trailer. The pickup was driven by Kyle Glassman, 27, from Duncan, OK. Duncan received non-life-threatening injuries.

How:
Per police reports, Alitz was northbound on Lincoln St / Highway 81. For unknown reasons, he crossed the center lane to impact the southbound Ram. He was not wearing a seat belt and required extrication. Glassman was wearing a seat belt and also required extrication. Alitz died on the way to the hospital.




Why:
This is another sad case of driver error leading to a preventable collision, and a lack of seat belt use leading to a possibly preventable death.

The 2000 Avalon is a safe car, as described here. It weighs 3468 lbs and comes with a "good" IIHS frontal score. It was impacted by a 2014 Ram pulling a 3-car trailer loaded with a van and two mid-sized vehicles. Let's estimate the weights as 5090 lbs for the Ram, 7500 lbs for the trailer and 11,400 lbs for the 3 vehicles towed. That sums to 23,990 lbs, or 692% of the Avalon's weight.  As a result, the Avalon automatically faced 692% more force in the collision than it would have colliding with another Fusion, placing it at an incredibly severe disadvantage in the collision.

Given the likely speeds of the collision (~55 mph), the collision likely imparted at least 3.29MJ of energy into the Avalon. The Avalon frontal impact test simulates 251KJ of energy (an Avalon impacting another at 40 mph). In other words, the Avalon faced 1310% of the force it would have experienced in the type of crash the vehicle was rated for. Death was sadly a near-certainty. The images suggest a severe amount of intrusion into the vehicle, and there appears to be very little survival space left forward of the B-pillar. His odds of survival would still have been incredibly small even with seat belt use, but they would still have been significantly greater, particularly given the fact that Alitz was still alive when extricated from the vehicle.

We may never know why Alitz crossed the center line. We do know that his momentary instance of distracted driving and lack of seat belt use led to the untimely end of his life.

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