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Old 5th January 2014, 22:13   #1
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Default Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!



Spring rain
leaking through the roof
dripping from the wasps' nest

- Matsuo Basho (1644 - 1694)

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It wasn't supposed to end like this. After 45K km's and barely a week after its third service, my beautiful white Laura gave generously of its own to keep my wife and me safe.

As friendly hands helped us out of our shattered cocoon lying by the Salem - Chidambaram highway, my first conscious thoughts were those of gratitude -
  • gratitude that we were safe except for minor scratches;
  • gratitude that nobody else was injured;
  • gratitude that our 4-year old who usually accompanies us was spending his Xmas break at the grandparents;
  • gratitude that we had long established a habit of always belting up;
  • gratitude to the willing villagers who were going out of their way to make us feel at ease;
  • gratitude to have had the sense to choose the safe car that was such a big part of our road-trip-adventures, including the most recent.

The haiku at the beginning says it well. Life is not without its ugliness, which but enhances living it.

What follows is a less-philosophical account of what briefly happened that fateful day (just 9 days ago!) and a diary of how we are moving on, including my encounters with my insurer and the hunt for a new car.

Thanks for reading!

Last edited by BackInTheFold : 5th January 2014 at 22:34.
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Old 5th January 2014, 22:33   #2
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Default re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

The 27th of December morning started early. We were heading to Chidambaram on our routine exploratory trip. Since our return to India, we had made it a point to travel to many un-visited parts of the country. This short trip was a mix of the old and the new - we'd both been to Chidambaram, but I was hoping to see Pitchavaram and Tanjore, both of which I'd never explored earlier.

The Laura was tanked up. I was looking to put the new Yoko Earth 1's (bought 2 weeks back) through their paces. Fresh from its service where both brake pads had been changed and its A/C gremlins had been finally laid to rest, I could feel it chomping at the bits.

We made good time to Salem and then veered off towards Chidambaram. Disaster struck as we were driving on the 2-lane State Highway after we took the exit from V-Kootu road. We were apparently in a village called Thagam Theertha Puram (which translates from Tamil to mean "A place which quenches thirst"). We had good reason later to believe that the place was aptly named.

What ensued was 10 second mayhem:
- A two-wheeler suddenly appears out of the left roadside bank and proceeds to slowly cross the road diagonally without looking!
- I brake, but the Laura does not respond as usual. We skid and are headed to the right side of the road!
- I'm thinking "flat tyre"! Fighting the wheel and trying to find the hand brake, I'm forced to reverse direction again to avoid an oncoming vehicle
- I see us heading towards a 5-year old boy and their grandmother who are on the side of the road. I try to avoid them by twisting the steering wheel to the right.
- Its quickly over then - the car teeters, rolls over and the airbags deploy as we somersault/careen through a tree. I keep asking my wife if she is ok. I hear her asking me the same. Music is still playing!

The smoke from the airbags settles and as I try to open the door, willing hands help us out of the car and quickly move our belongings. We slowly make our way to a roadside temple. The helpful villagers from the aptly named village are all concerned and keep asking us if we're ok. We assure them that we are! We're super happy to be breathing!

Last edited by BackInTheFold : 5th January 2014 at 22:38.
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Old 9th January 2014, 16:13   #3
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

Thread moved from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) to Street Experiences. Glad to hear you're safe!
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Old 9th January 2014, 16:22   #4
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

It is good to hear that you are both safe, and you did follow your usual driving safety practices. Your presence of mind has saved a few bystanders as well, and Kudos are due to you for the same.

Safety is what we assume we should get out of a Skoda, and safety is what you have received from your investment. Has there been an investigation into the reason the brakes did not respond as expected?
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Old 10th January 2014, 02:22   #5
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

It's really wonderful nothing disastrous happened, fortune definitely favoured you, unexpected generosity shown by the villagers. When you said that the Laura didn't respond to your braking input, did you mean that it skidded upon the application of brakes on completely dry tarmac? I'm assuming it wasn't equipped with ABS?

I must give you credit for your quick reflexes though, please do invest in a car with at least ABS, EBD and 2 airbags because safety is the number one priority.
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Old 10th January 2014, 02:47   #6
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

Seeing the image of your mangled Laura really gave me goosebumps, so glad that both you and your wife survived such a crash and came out unhurt. May god bless both of you. Accidents can happen with anyone and its due to your quick reflexes that no human was hurt in this mishap. The hefty build quality along with airbags saved you from injuries.

Was the car declared a total loss? Hope you find a suitable replacement to your car soon.

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Originally Posted by createrkid View Post
I must give you credit for your quick reflexes though, please do invest in a car with at least ABS, EBD and 2 airbags because safety is the number one priority.
Laura in India always came with ABS, EBD and front 2 airbags as standard, it even had ESP standard if am not wrong.

German/european cars like Jetta/Laura may not give you creature comforts like sunroof, cooled seats etc but they never compromise on safety. Heck, the trendline Jetta doesn't even have fog lamps but comes with EDL, ESP, ASR, 6 airbags, ABS, EBD as standard along with solid build quality.
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Old 10th January 2014, 02:48   #7
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Got the shock of my life reading your calm, composed post, with the Haiku et al!
I am truly happy you and your wife are safe.
The Laura is indeed a solid, safe beast and there could be no better illustration than this case, in reference to the importance of safety features in a car!
Is there a formal investigation on in ref to the brakes and why they did not respond quite as they ought to have?
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Old 10th January 2014, 07:39   #8
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

I am glad that you are safe. Feel equally sad to see your mangled beauty. Indian roads are full of idiots and this reminds me of the ceat ad that has this punch line.

Sudden appearance of two wheelers, people crossing the roads and animals coming on your way are the most regular reasons for accidents on our roads.

Anyways the best is that your safe driving habit has helped you come out of this situation unharmed.
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Old 10th January 2014, 09:24   #9
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

Sorry to hear about your accident and glad that both you and your wife are safe.

Did you feel the ABS pulse? ABS and EBD is standard in our Lauras, if yours is an L&K , ESP is also there.

New tyres + new brake pads + emergency braking scenario is not a good situation to be in. New tyres need a few 100 kms to start gripping, which is why tyre manufacturers recommend a run it period for new tyres. http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tirete...e.jsp?techid=5

Usually its never a good idea to put on new tyres and head straight out on to the highway. Same with brake pads, they also need some time to bed in and provide optimum braking.

Just out of curiosity what kind of surface was it? I doubt if it was wet. Was it smooth tarmac, or gravelly surface?
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Old 10th January 2014, 10:09   #10
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

I agree with Santosh on the idea of heading to the highway with that combo set of pads and tyres as tyres indeed need some run-in period to come into its being.Glad to know that you and your wife are safe. It makes me feel sad as I was on Salem route just couple of days ago to your incident and again on return on Dec 30th.

Btw, can you post some more pics of the Laura as mentioned by others, I dont think its manged except for damage to front and shattered windsheild. Perhaps, i could be wrong

What are next steps with Insurance?

Last edited by mobike008 : 10th January 2014 at 10:25. Reason: typos
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Old 10th January 2014, 10:19   #11
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

It is good to know that you both are safe.
It feels even better to hear that you managed to avoid an innocent child.
I guess it was your driving experience/skills combined with the handling ability of Laura.

I always believe that European cars are not just designed to be safe at "test" or "standard" conditions, but they are designed to be safe at much worse conditions. It is just my observation, looking at all different accidents.

I hope you have a smooth insurance claim process.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BackInTheFold View Post
- I'm thinking "flat tyre"! Fighting the wheel and trying to find the hand brake, I'm forced to reverse direction again to avoid an oncoming vehicle
Were you trying to use hand brake when the car was moving?
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Old 10th January 2014, 10:23   #12
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
Usually its never a good idea to put on new tyres and head straight out on to the highway. Same with brake pads, they also need some time to bed in and provide optimum braking.

Just out of curiosity what kind of surface was it? I doubt if it was wet. Was it smooth tarmac, or gravelly surface?
Quote:
Originally Posted by mobike008 View Post
I agree with Santosh on the idea of heading to the highway with that that entire combo set of pads and tyres as tyres indeed need some run-in period to come into its being
Bangalore to Salem is 200+kms. That's a decent distance to bed in the tyres. Also the first line says barely a week after service which means few days with new tyres.

Our roads will remove any wax or coating on new tyres in a jiffy.

I would go with road surface or ABS issue after pads.
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Old 10th January 2014, 11:02   #13
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

New tires and brakes can take upto 300-500 km to set in properly. That is the reason most new car's manuals always say to take it very easy in the first 500-1k km. From the description of the accident, it seems very likely that the brake pads were simply unable to function as required as well as the tires, either the brakes locked or glazed with the hard application of the pedal and with poor tire grip the car would be out of control. I am not too sure why the ABS did not seem to have kicked in to help.

Anyway glad everybody is safe and modern car technology plus seatbelt habits helped in that.
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Old 10th January 2014, 14:11   #14
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Default Re: Skoda Laura Accident. Rolls over, yet keeps us SAFE!

At least here Skoda scores in terms of Safety rather than reliability of services
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Old 10th January 2014, 14:37   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by latentpotential View Post
It is good to hear that you are both safe, and you did follow your usual driving safety practices. Your presence of mind has saved a few bystanders as well, and Kudos are due to you for the same.

Safety is what we assume we should get out of a Skoda, and safety is what you have received from your investment. Has there been an investigation into the reason the brakes did not respond as expected?
Thanks for the note. The investigation is underway as to the cause (brakes etc. ). I'm not very hopeful if it will throw up anything worthwhile. We'll see

Quote:
Originally Posted by createrkid View Post
It's really wonderful nothing disastrous happened, fortune definitely favoured you, unexpected generosity shown by the villagers. When you said that the Laura didn't respond to your braking input, did you mean that it skidded upon the application of brakes on completely dry tarmac? I'm assuming it wasn't equipped with ABS?

I must give you credit for your quick reflexes though, please do invest in a car with at least ABS, EBD and 2 airbags because safety is the number one priority.
Thanks. It does have ABS, airbags and slip protection (ESP), which is why this is bizarre. I would never buy a car which does not have these features.

Quote:
Originally Posted by coolboy007 View Post
Seeing the image of your mangled Laura really gave me goosebumps, so glad that both you and your wife survived such a crash and came out unhurt. May god bless both of you. Accidents can happen with anyone and its due to your quick reflexes that no human was hurt in this mishap. The hefty build quality along with airbags saved you from injuries.

Was the car declared a total loss? Hope you find a suitable replacement to your car soon.
Thank you for your kind words. We're grateful that nobody (ourselves or others) was hurt in all of this. Imagine the trauma if anything like that had happened!

I'm dealing with the insurer now on the total loss proceedings. I'll share more details on the process in future posts, reserving my full comments until after the deal consummates.

The search for the next car is on in earnest. I'd originally intended to document the search process in the same thread, but will probably defer that to another.

Quote:
Originally Posted by shankar.balan View Post
Got the shock of my life reading your calm, composed post, with the Haiku et al!
I am truly happy you and your wife are safe.
The Laura is indeed a solid, safe beast and there could be no better illustration than this case, in reference to the importance of safety features in a car!
Is there a formal investigation on in ref to the brakes and why they did not respond quite as they ought to have?
Thank you! We're glad that we chose to buy the Laura when we did - it was a no contest at that time really, given that we wanted a safe and powerful diesel automatic.

Investigations are underway, but I'm not really hopeful as to what they'll throw up. I'll probably spend some time on this myself if I can carve some time away from work.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Santoshbhat View Post
Sorry to hear about your accident and glad that both you and your wife are safe.

Did you feel the ABS pulse? ABS and EBD is standard in our Lauras, if yours is an L&K , ESP is also there.

New tyres + new brake pads + emergency braking scenario is not a good situation to be in. New tyres need a few 100 kms to start gripping, which is why tyre manufacturers recommend a run it period for new tyres. http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tirete...e.jsp?techid=5

Usually its never a good idea to put on new tyres and head straight out on to the highway. Same with brake pads, they also need some time to bed in and provide optimum braking.

Just out of curiosity what kind of surface was it? I doubt if it was wet. Was it smooth tarmac, or gravelly surface?
Thanks. The variant is a Laura DSG with ABS, ESP, EBD and airbags. I did feel the pulse of the ABS, but I was doing multiple things at the same time and can't remember clearly.

The tires and brake pads had both run for about 500 km's before the highway drive. Bangalore roads accelerate break-in due to their cheese-grater like nature I know better than to drive out with brand new wheels or pads.

The surface was slightly broken tarmac with some gravel. Bone dry - not at all wet.

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Last edited by moralfibre : 10th January 2014 at 15:09.
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