Horrific crash in Los Angeles

A driver ran right through a red light at a busy city intersection at a speed estimated at possibly 60 mph or even higher, resulting in a fiery crash that killed six people. The video of the crash is disturbing. The driver is going so fast that you barely see the car before it enters the intersection and the crash occurs.

What astonishes me is how anyone could be driving so fast in a city. This did not look like mere distracted driving because of texting or speaking on the phone or other reasons. The car did not do anything to avoid a collision, such as swerve or brake, right up to the impact. It looked like the car was set on cruise control at that high speed which is implausible. To get up to such a high speed in city traffic, you have to be conscious of what you are doing. Even if she was on drugs, I cannot see why she would be going so fast. The only possibility I can think of is that she lost consciousness while her foot was on the accelerator. But surely you cannot press your foot down if you are unconscious? We will have to await an analysis of the blood that was taken from her in hospital.

Another astonishing thing is that her own injuries are described as ‘moderate’. How she even survived the. crash is astonishing. Her car was a Mercedes Benz and maybe they have very good protection for occupants.


  1. Oggie: Mathom says

    Scary. There are so many cars out there. So many drivers.

    Another astonishing thing is that her own injuries are described as ‘moderate’. How she even survived the. crash is astonishing. Her car was a Mercedes Benz and maybe they have very good protection for occupants.

    Luckily, cars are so safe now — crumple zones to absorb energy, hoods that crumple, smart airbags in multiple locations, auto-tensioning seat belts, auto (space) frames designed to send energy around the passenger compartment — that accidents involving a modern vehicle are survivable while the same accident, in a car from as recently as the 1990s, would be fatal. On the flipside, though, cars can now go so much faster and handle so much better that it is easy for drivers to exceed their own driving envelope and enter into events in which the driver is now so far behind events that bad things happen. I cannot find it (my Google-fu sucks), but I recall an article some years back in which it was noted that, despite five times as many vehicles, automotive deaths were now lower than in ~1950.

  2. says

    Offhand, I’m guessing either suicidal road-rage, some very powerful drug or drug-combo that kicked in while the driver was pushing down on the gas pedal, or maybe a sudden health crisis like a seizure or heart-attack. The driver survived with only “moderate” injuries, so we’ll have the answer soon enough…

  3. txpiper says

    “Nicole Lorraine Linton, the 37-year-old traveling nurse from Houston, Texas who was hit with six counts of murder over the Aug. 4 crash on Monday, has been involved in 13 other wrecks, the Los Angeles Times reported.”
    Linton could be facing a fine, possibly even the suspension of her license.

  4. Matt G says

    When I was in grad school in NYC, a classmate and three friends drove down to Philadelphia to visit friends. When they overshot their exit, instead of going to the next exit and returning, they used one of the U-turns reserved for emergency vehicles and cops. As you have already guessed, they caused a collision with an oncoming car while trying to merge. The two occupants of the oncoming car died, as did my classmate and two others in his car. The driver sustained a broken ankle. While the driver is ultimately responsible, I don’t for one second doubt that the other passengers were in agreement about using the U-turn. But what a burden to live with.

  5. moarscienceplz says

    “What astonishes me is how anyone could be driving so fast in a city.”
    I have heard that drunk drivers with cars that have automatic braking systems will set their cruise control and then trust their ABS so they can ignore their speed and just focus on steering. IDK if that was the case here, but it could possibly explain it.

  6. Holms says

    I see txpiper is also a subscriber to the right wing claims that liberal leadership has caused California to become lawless.

  7. Matt G says

    I once found my Honda CRV trying to brake while I was try to accelerate. I was changing lanes to make it through a light about to turn red (and yes, I was going to make it safely). Because I hadn’t completely moved to the free lane, the braking system thought I was about to crash into the car in my original lane. I turned off that system soon afterwards.

  8. txpiper says

    Watching the video at quarter playback speed on YT, it is a wonder that more people were not killed. She is definitely alive because of airbags.

  9. tuatara says

    ….the 37-year-old traveling nurse from Houston, Texas

    So is she txdriver? Is California coddling Texan criminals?

    But more seriously, I remember some Toyotas having a problem with sudden uncontrollable acceleration leading to multiple fatal crashes -- for example https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2010-feb-28-la-fiw-toyota-deaths-list28-2010feb28-story.html

    This accident may not have been her fault.
    Or maybe she was letting jesus drive…because that always ends well. https://www.thedrive.com/article/18172/man-lets-jesus-take-the-wheel-flips-truck-five-times

  10. says

    A later report puts her speed at around 90 mph.

    Pretty easy to figure if you know the frame-rate and the length of an area within the scene.

    That’s ridiculously fast to be driving anywhere but a race-track.

  11. says

    tuatara: I remember hearing about Priuses accelerating uncontrollably too. I also remember a story I found frankly unbelievable, about a guy whose Prius started accelerating uncontrollably, and who allegedly managed to steer it at full speed on a highway, on residential streets, and through many busy intersections, without ever hitting anyone or anything. I don’t remember hearing any follow-up to that story.

  12. John Morales says

    That’s ridiculously fast to be driving anywhere but a race-track.

    Nah. In the period from 2004 to 2017, I commuted to work in a rural council office, a 43 km trip each way.

    My average trip speed exceeded 120kph, except when it was weathery.

    (And boy, was there ever some weather! And yes, there were minor incidents.
    But you know, old bold pilots and that)

    Nah, it’s not specifically where one speeds, it’s the applicable circumstances.
    So, it’s not whether it’s racetrack, but whether circumstances are amenable.

    Obs, in this case, it was either deliberate or horrifyingly inescapable.

  13. lochaber says

    I thought that bit about (toyotas?) cars accelerating uncontrollably turned out to be multiple cases of user errror, where they panicked, and pushed on the accelerator instead of the break, and then panicked more, and pushed on the accelerator harder…

    I don’t remember where I read about that, but I do remember reading about the various claims of uncontrollable acceleration, and wondered why none of them seemed to try shifting to a different gear/neutral, shutting off the engine, etc. I also think I’ve heard that most vehicles have stronger brakes than acceleration, in that if you push both pedals hard, the vehicle will stall out. Never tried it, and not certain how accurate that is.

    Then again, I don’t have much experience with modern vehicles, rented a car recently, and was quite confused as to how to start it, since there wasn’t a key, or a place to put a key in/near the steering column… I still think automatic windows are a bit fancy…

  14. mordred says

    Marcus@17: 90 mph? That’s about 145 km/h, right?
    Not an exceptional speed on the German Autobahn -- I really wish we had speed limits like the rest of the civilised world!

  15. Katydid says

    Uncontrollable car acceleration *can* happen. In 1986, I was in a Dodge Aspen station (“estate” for our non-USAian friends) wagon that suddenly decided to run away with me. I was practically standing on the brake pedal, to no avail. I was on a country road with few other drivers, but still, it was terrifying. It took shifting into neutral and ripping the key out of the ignition to get that car to slow down.

    It was a Dodge Aspen, so the cost of fixing it was more than the car was worth.

  16. says

    Lochaber: I remember hearing similar things about accelerator vs. brake: brake generally wins (though not without significant wear/damage, so don’t try it at home), and one can do other things like shift to neutral, turn off the engine, etc. — though we shouldn’t expect drivers to think of that in time to avoid a crash, when they’ve been caught by surprise by the sudden lurch forward. Cars may have changed since I learned all that, but I can’t imagine any company routinely making cars whose brakes can’t stop them in certain circumstances, without a huge amount of controversy and negative publicity.

    Also, one of the incidents in the cited article did mention that the dead driver’s feet were firmly on the brake, not the gas pedal, when rescuers dug through the wreckage.

  17. says

    Back around 2010, it was Volvos that originally had unintended accelerations. My recollection is that in the end the consensus was that people were confusing the brake pedal with the accelerator. Particularly on the Volvo they were closer together than for US-made car; also, the brake pedal was narrow like an accelerator. For those who claimed that they were standing on the brake, they were just mistaken and standing on the accelerator. And with shoes on, there is not even the sense of touch to guide one. In general, brakes in cars are more “powerful” than the engine--you ought to be able to stop the car with the brakes under full acceleration. In support, just think about how fast you can do a 0-60 with the accelerator, but how much faster you can do a 60-0 with the brake (and that can lock the tires).

  18. says

    Oops. Also wanted to say: of course, these days with so much more of the controls handled by computers, I can see software issues making what I wrote above obsolete.

  19. Reginald Selkirk says

    @4 Quoting LATimes: “has been involved in 13 other wrecks”

    These attempts by many commenters to blame the vehicle rather than the driver seem to me misguided.

  20. Katydid says

    @Ahcuah, if the bit about not realizing one was standing on the accelerator was aimed at me, you are wrong. In the 1980 Aspen, the accelerator was a skinny little sliver on the right side, while the brake was a short, wide, thick plank in the middle. Nice insinuation that everyone is stupider than you and don’t know that, however.

    Not saying what happened in LA was involuntary car acceleration, not saying it wasn’t. We don’t know. Just echoing a comment above about involuntary acceleration. When it happened to me, it was early afternoon and I was in my mid-20s, completely sober and just going about my day.

  21. Jazzlet says

    @Katydid, as Ahcuah specifically said they were talking about Volvos in around 2010 I do not think they were making any reference to you..

  22. says

    Well, actually, I was, to a small extent, responding to Katydid. But it is quite offensive for them to then accuse me of saying they were stupid. If one studies any human factors engineering, and just humans in general, no matter how smart they are, or how young they are, people make mistakes and DO NOT realize it. All humans. It is simply a possibility, and to get all huffy about that is not optimal.

    Another possibility, one that happened to me once, is that the car mat somehow got shifted over my accelerator. But standing on the brake allowed me to discover the problem and fix it.

    So, are you telling us that your Dodge Aspen had an engine that was more powerful than the brakes? A Dodge Aspen?

  23. says

    Wide brake pedals seem more a feature of cars with automatic transmission, including hybrids and (I think) electric cars. Cars with manual transmissions tend to have narrower brake pedals, to make room for the clutch pedal. Either way, I, for one, never had a problem with aiming for one pedal and hitting another — they’re just never that close together.

    Also, as I said before, in one of those accidents cited in the article, the driver’s foot was on the brake when they died. If any of those drivers died with their foot on the accelerator pedal, the article didn’t mention it.

  24. fentex says

    I expect the driver will try and blame the car for a fault. As to how someone can be driving that fast -- modern cars engines, even though getting smaller in capacity are surprisingly powerful.

    I own and drive a modern Mercedes (AMG with sport options), it hasn’t a big engine but it takes no time at all to surpass the speed in this video. The acceleration it is capable of is very seductive, and the quality of ride disguises how fast you’re travelling -- the temptation to enjoy going fast is very real and requires discipline to control.

    But I don’t think this person was thinking they could safely drive that way -- I would guess they were enraged and distracted from their, and others, situation, I suspect anger of the red mist variety about something.

  25. John Morales says

    fentex @34: “I expect the driver will try and blame the car for a fault.”
    @35: “It was a nurse travelling at 130mph who probably did it deliberately”


  26. says

    From the article cited @35:

    Killer driver Nicole Linton’s lawyer says she DOES NOT have history of dangerous driving, despite reports she was involved in 13 incidents

    How is 13 incidents not a “history of dangerous driving?” Would 14 have been the charm here?

    After her discharge from Ronald Reagan UCLA medical center…

    Seriously? Given Ronald Reagan’s record and attitude toward public health, that’s gotta be the LEAST appropriate name for a medical center. What’s next, “Betsey DeVos High School?”

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