Arizona Sen. Steve Smith and a campaign staffer walked away from a violent car crash Sunday after a parade on the Navajo Nation. Smith, who is running for a seat in Congress, told The Arizona Republic he was riding shotgun in an SUV driven by campaign staffer Mark Fitzgerald. They were traveling on Interstate 40 near the Arizona-New Mexico border, headed back to metro Phoenix when the vehicle hydroplaned on rain-slick roads.
The vehicle careened into the median going about 65 mph. "It felt like a boat hitting waves really hard," the Republican senator from Maricopa said. "It was like, 'Boom, then jump, then boom, then jump.' I was for sure we were going to roll. ... We were heading into oncoming traffic." Fitzgerald, 24, turned the wheel, sending the vehicle back into their lane and into the back end of a semi-truck.
"My window is obliterated as we go into the semi, and it ripped the whole front end off, then the back end of the car smashes into the guardrail," Smith said. "It's great to be alive," Smith said.
Smith credits divine intervention for their walking away from the crash.
And that everyone, is how these crashes happen and why median barriers are so important.
At 65 mph, a car is traveling nearly 100 feet every second. At 75 mph, closer to 115 feet every second.
Most medians on Arizona’s highways (the grass/dirt area in the middle) ate 70-80 feet wide. That means it will take less than 1 second at normal highway speeds to cross into the opposing lanes of travel.
Hydroplane; mechanical malfunction; medical emergency; an object in the road; vehicle interaction; impaired driver; inattention. There are many reasons a vehicle can lose control on the highway.
And you know what: It does not matter what the reason is to the innocent drivers/passengers going the opposite way.
There is an easy fix, and the State knows it. “Median barriers” prevent 95% of cross median crashes. Barriers save lives. Period.
By way of this post, we AGAIN implore our State highway department to do the right thing for all roadway travelers in Arizona: