Yesterday, I was travelling by train across the snowy rural plains of Ontario when we hit a car that was crossing the tracks on a country road. Like many of you, I have heard the horror stories of Car Meets Train since my youth and I've always wondered how any driver (Clark Kent exempted) could be stupid enough to challenge a speeding locomotive. But there's always someone willing to explore the parameters of physical science.
In this case, I can report that the driver is alive and well, but his wee Mazda didn't make it. I don't have the details of his injuries (we were only told they were "minor" in nature), but the train clipped his tail-end and sent his car spinning into the air like a newspaper in the wind, so if nothing else, he's gotta be pretty shaken up. I bet he felt like that cow in Twister.
Here's something surprising: from the train's perspective, hitting a car is actually less jarring to passengers than hitting a 4 foot snowdrift. We hit plenty of large drifts during the trip, each one violently rocking the cars and slowing the momentum of the train. But when we hit the car, no one noticed... well, until the car floated past the passengers' windows like a frisbee.
And I have to say, the accident itself was kinda cool. Like being in a Hollywood blockbuster action movie or something. Slow motion-like and really spectacular. I regret to report there was no fireball or explosion of any kind. I also regret that Tom Cruise was not at the wheel.
I would feel terribly sad if the driver had been seriously hurt or perished in the accident, even if I was merely witnessing Darwinism at work. But the driver didn't die or suffer serious injuries, so I'm still a bit pissed off that I lost 6 hours of my life (in addition to the 4 hour trip) to someone else's incredibly bad decision. And yes, maybe I would feel better if he was hurt. Maybe it would have made those freezing cold hours I spent with cranky, smelly, freaked-out complaining seniors more meaningful.