Date: 1/30/2014, 2:49 PM.
Fatalities: 1. Elizabeth Proctor, 19.
Injuries: Marggo Young, 66 (minor).
Where: Highway 14 by Evansville, WI.
Vehicles: Ford Escort, Chevrolet Impala.
Impact: Passenger side (est.).
Human Element: Elizabeth graduated in 2013 from New Glarus High School and was a Criminal Justice student in Madison College. She was also a mother to an infant daughter, Lyla Keller, and had a boyfriend, Noah Keller.
The How: Elizabeth was driving on Highway 14, lost control of her vehicle, swerved into the opposite lane of oncoming traffic, and collided with an oncoming Chevrolet Impala. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Risk factors: Poor road conditions, lighter car in collision, lack of side airbags, lack of ESC, lack of ABS.
Protective factors: Youth of driver, seat belt use.
Vehicle analysis: Typically, the occupants of the heavier vehicle in a 2-vehicle collision fare better than those in the lighter vehicle, and this collision was no exception. The Escort, a compact car, weighed ~2538 lbs, while the 2000 Impala, for comparison, weighed ~3448 lbs, or 36% more. This means Elizabeth received 36% greater forces from the start than she would have if she’d collided with another Escort.
Beyond the weight discrepancy, speed was also a factor, although neither vehicle was reported to have been speeding. The IIHS side impact test is at 31 mph, which is considered a severe impact. The collision likely occurred at 55 mph, which meant that Elizabeth probably faced 3.1x the forces at which the IIHS tests side impact collisions. Of course, the Escort did not have side airbags, which made the collision even more severe. The Escort also lacked ABS as a standard feature, which might have helped Elizabeth brake without the wheels locking and increasing the odds of a skid. Finally, ESC could also have saved lives in this collision by enabling her to maintain her intended course of direction in poor road conditions. Sadly, none of these protective elements were present, save for Elizabeth’s seat belt use, which, while excellent, could not overcome the other risk factors she faced.
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