Car Talk Guide to Auto Safety
Two Parents' Tragic Story
Margaret Tussey sent the following letter
This letter is in response to your last caller on September 26. I know this is an informative as well as wildly crazy show, but amongst all the laughter and jokes, you are also sending out correct messages. Your reaction to the woman who wanted a "cute little fast car" for her 16-year-old daughter was right on. These parents sometimes just don't have a clue. We handed down our '86 Volvo wagon to our teenage daughter, Katie. She drove it for two years before she went off to college. We always had a Volvo because of the "tank" effect. We always felt safe and wanted our children to be safe.
Katie was not the best driver, so unfortunately a month before she was to head for Butler University with a scholarship in ballet, she rear-ended someone going into a tunnel. Her car was in the shop when it came time for her to head for college. Her father (in Virginia Beach, VA), where she spent her last year, packed her up in his cute little two-door '94 BMW convertible and sent her off to school on August 20, 1997. She was also going to drop off her boyfriend at Cincinnati Art Institute. Dad was going to fly to Indianapolis that weekend and pick up his car. Three hours outside of Virginia Beach, she dozed at the wheel. By the time she woke, it was too late. She went into the median and turned the car sharply to the right to avoid the guardrail. The impact struck her door and proceeded to ram 20 feet of steel guardrail into the back, which slammed her into the steering wheel. We know she was unconscious immediately, so did not suffer. Her boyfriend was asleep in her lap with no seat belt on. He walked away. She died at the scene. She had her seat belt on.
So, your reaction was quite moving as well as excellent. What the hell is that stupid mother thinking? Is the car "cute." What an idiot!!! I hope she and other parents get the message that their children's popularity does not rest on a "cute" car. What good is cute if they are dead.!!!!! Thank you for the energy and intelligent information you send out every Saturday. I just had to respond because it was too close to home and it illustrated your point BIG TIME. For what it's worth, it might change one parent's mind and save one child so they don't have to live in the hell of losing one's child.