View Full Version : Car question

05-12-2010, 06:27 PM
I am definitely not a car person so I need some help.

My MC is involved in a car accident on a 2 lane road. Car pulls out in front of him and he T-bones it. No one else is around. When he gets out, the passengers in the other car are both not moving (he thinks they are dead). In that first quiet stillness, I need some kind of sounds and/or smells from the accident; for example, some kind of fluid dripping from the car he hit that he could hear dripping like maybe antifreeze or radiator fluid. I know an obvious example of something he could smell would be if the car caught fire, but I don't want that to happen.


the addster
05-12-2010, 06:58 PM
First if he t-boned the car, it's more likely fluids would be dripping from his car. And anti-freeze is radiator fluid.

There would probably be a hot rubber smell from your MC trying to brake before the accident, maybe antifreeze (kind of sweet and hot smelling). A lot of this would depend on kind of cars involved, how new they are, the speed of the accident, and where exactly they hit each other. For example, a newer car that t-bones another car might look totally destroyed, but still be running, the car that got hit could easily still be running, so you would have an engine sound. For example, I once had a pretty good accident where my CD player was still going when the crashing stopped (Pearl Jam, Alive, it was a bit freaky).

Honestly, you have a lot of options here, every accident is different.

05-12-2010, 07:38 PM
Smell of the propellant from the airbag?

Kathie Freeman
05-12-2010, 07:39 PM
Main thing he is going to hear is his own heartbeat.

05-12-2010, 08:29 PM
Ok so I learned something new today ... had no idea that anti-freeze and radiator fluid are the same thing!!

Thanks for the suggestions, especially about the heartbeat. I was so focused on 'outside' noises that I didn't think about internal stuff yet. It will be even more important in this case because, while he technically wasn't at fault, he was on a cell phone fighting with his soon-to-be ex-wife just minutes before the accident.

05-12-2010, 08:45 PM
You might also want to think about the place the accident happens when considering the sounds and smells. Itís a two lane road, but what is around it? Are there fields next to the road? There can be a lone bird song, or perhaps the sound of a crow in the distance. Also, if the accident happens in summer the smells will be very different than in winter. Itís great that you are thinking of all the different sensory impressions. I love writing that brings it all alive to me.

Linda Adams
05-12-2010, 09:24 PM
I live on a corner where we get a lot of accidents. I'm just the right place to see all of them. The street is a main route, and people routinely go 15 MPH over the speed limit. The problem is the hill. It crests, then drops down to the street light, so if there's a car stopped or running the light, you can't see it until it's too late. We've even had police cars hit other cars. Fire department is less than a mile away.

These are two accidents that occurred late at night:

Car plowed into the fire hydrant on the corner (it's been hit at least 3-5 times). The crash into the fire hydrant woke me up. The sound of the crash is very distinctive--kind of a combination of glass and plastic crashing together. Violent and very sudden. No brake sounds--I'm guessing the driver fell asleep at the wheel. By the time I got to the window, the driver had already gone past the fire hydrant, up onto the curb, across the grass and was sitting in front of the stairs to my building. And, after that loud crash, it was just as startlingly silent. The car was sitting in front of the stairs, and it was dead quiet. The driver didn't get out of the car for several minutes. By then, someone had called 911, and we could hear the sirens coming. Then we got the strobe lights of the fire department and police, voices, people moving back and forth. Eventually the roar of a tow truck pulling the car onto the bed.

Car plowed into a minivan--again, that distinctive glass and plastic sound, sharp and abrupt. This time, a second later, another crash. That made me look out the window. The mini-van had been hit so hard that it tipped over. Time stopped for that silence immediately after the second crash. I got up to see how bad it was, and the driver bailed out of the mini-van, hopping up and down and clutching her arm. I'm guessing the airbags deployed. Fluid leaked out on the ground--it kind of sits on the surface of the street, shiny at night with the street lights. Aside from the driver, it was really quiet after the accident. No one else got out. Again, sirens in the distant, and the strobe lights. When the fire department arrived, they shoveled sand onto the fluid to soak it up.

Once the fire department shows up, it's men talking, possibly police whistles, more sirens (ambulance shows up), the roar of a fire truck as it leaves, the clack of the ambulance attendants taking out the stretcher, doors slamming.

By the way, he will likely be in shock, which may delay his reactions and cause him to do odd things. Many years ago, a car turned in front of my motorcycle. I managed to hit the brakes hard enough that the impact wasn't bad, and somehow I ejected myself before the accident, banging up both my knees. Not really hurt, but I was in shock from it. I was wearing this vest with about six pockets, and I put my keys in the pocket. A couple hours later, the keys were gone. Couldn't find them anywhere. Turned out, I put them in a pocket different than what I would normally do, and I didn't remember doing it!

Todd Bayliss
05-12-2010, 11:39 PM
Reformed street racer here and have crashed my fair share. The thing that always strikes me immediately after a crash is the quiet. In the moments before impact, your senses become hyper-aware and your mind is working at light speed.
Some close friends driving a 1984 Mustang GT t-boned a '73 Pontiac once. Again, not much sensory wise in the aftermath. The cars were damaged more in the extraction of the occupants than the crash itself, but never let the truth get inthe way of a good story. I would be glad to relate the story in detail if you wish.

And hot coolant smells exactly like vanilla extract.