The Physics of a Fender Bender: Rotating a 4000 lb Van

In summary, the speaker was involved in a fender bender where a red car collided with their van at an intersection. The speaker is unsure of how fast the red car was going, as the van weighed 4000 lbs with the driver and passenger, while the red car weighed 3400 lbs with its driver. The impact caused the van to rotate 180 degrees on its front tire and hit a yield sign on the other side of the intersection. However, there is no way to determine the speed of the red car based on these details.
  • #1
Recently I was unfortunately involved in a fender bender. I was traveling at most about 10 mph into an intersection I had just left a Yield sign when a bright red car collided with me. My question, how fast was it likely going? I ask this, because I was driving a van weighing likely 4000 lbs with me the driver 300 lbs and an occupant 150 lbs. The other vehicle was 3400 lbs (both car weights are guesses based on wiki) and its driver about 150 lbs also. The impact was on the passenger rear tire, and the van pivoted 180 degrees on the drivers front tire strpping away the tire to grind the rim some into the pavement. The van also hit the yield sign on the other end of the intersection plowing it under.

So how fast was the lighter object moving to rotate the heavier object 180 degrees in that split second?
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  • #2
We get questions of this sort fairly often and I'm sorry to have to say there's no way of answering them. Too much depends on the construction of the vehicles, the nature of the crash damage, the exact angles and times and weights, and innumerable other details.

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Related to The Physics of a Fender Bender: Rotating a 4000 lb Van

What is the physics behind a fender bender?

A fender bender involves the transfer of energy from one object to another. When a 4000 lb van collides with another object, the kinetic energy of the van is transferred to the object it collides with, causing damage.

How does the weight of the van impact the force of the collision?

The weight of the van plays a significant role in the force of the collision. The heavier the van, the more kinetic energy it possesses, resulting in a higher force of impact during a collision.

What role does rotation play in a fender bender?

In a fender bender, rotation occurs when the van makes contact with another object, causing it to move in a circular motion. This rotation can impact the severity of the damage and the direction in which the van moves after the collision.

How does the speed of the van impact a fender bender?

The speed of the van at the time of the collision determines the amount of kinetic energy it possesses. The higher the speed, the more energy will be transferred to the object it collides with, resulting in a more severe fender bender.

What factors determine the outcome of a fender bender?

The outcome of a fender bender depends on several factors, including the weight and speed of the van, the angle and direction of impact, and the type of object it collides with. The physics behind these factors determines the severity of the damage and the potential injuries to those involved in the collision.

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