Rain often brings out the worst conditions to drive in. Extended braking distances, flooding, and added traffic are some of the only things you’ll have to worry about when traversing through Metro Manila in a downpour. When you’re on a coastal mountain road, however, it is even more dangerous to be out on the road when the weather decides to turn bad. 

The Hualien (花蓮) area is a coastal region of Taiwan and is home to the Suhua (蘇花 ) highway that spans a total of 170 kilometers. On the 9th line at about 7:30 in the evening on the 24th of May, an accident occurred because of a falling boulder. Due to the rain in the area, soil erosion caused the stone to get dislodged from its perch. In its way was a Hyundai Tucson that was able to protect the occupants from harm. After a trip to the hospital due to some minor injuries, it was confirmed that there was no danger to the life of the driver and his wife. 

Although the occupants survived, the vehicle itself suffered a bit of a beating. The four to five-ton boulder struck the A-pillar, a main structural element that starts from the end of the hood, where the sides of the windshield are attached. Breaking down the incident, the structural element took most of the force. In crash testing, the A-pillar needs to be rigid enough in order to protect the cabin from collapsing in on itself and harming the occupants. The driver and his wife were lucky that the boulder hit a section of one of the strongest parts of the car. 

To give a brief background, in a head-on collision the hood deforms and redirects the energy into different directions. This section of the car deforms so that the impact doesn’t transfer into the cabin. Passengers must be protected at all costs, hence the need for a strong “cage”. The cabin has three main parts in most cars except for wagons, the A-pillar, B-pillar, and C-pillar. A-pillars help protect from front collisions, while B-pillars protect against side collisions. C-pillars protect the rear of the cabin. All these elements working in tandem must be able to support the weight of the car in the event of a rollover or in this story’s case, a boulder striking the top part of the car. 

As noted by some Taiwanese netizens, Hyundai cars and their Advanced High Strength Steel (AHSS) played a key role in keeping the cabin safe. This is not the first time that a Hyundai was caught between a rock and a hard place. There were a few incidents where trailers fell onto the roof of a car only for it to remain rigid enough to support the heavy weight laid upon it. Hyundai touts that the use of this steel aims to achieve the best-in-class rigidity with AHSS and its structural adhesives. Rigidity, in turn, helps in handling, performance, and safety without impacting the overall weight of the vehicle. 

Traffic resumed after the incident. It took three hours for the officials to get traffic flowing normally again. Thankfully no life was lost during this incident. Whether Hyundai’s AHSS played a major role in the incident is up to debate, but it’s reassuring to know that the brand takes its rigidity seriously. 

Photo from: New City Police Branch in Taiwan

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