John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Could this be the worst car accident ever put to video?
They call it tufush: a "great national boredom" among the youth of Saudi Arabia. Flooded with hormones but lacking opportunities to really go wild – this being a strict Muslim society – the kids of the oil kingdom have embraced some fairly crazy hobbies to get their howling yayas out.
Among them is drifting, the "sport" of accelerating like you're trying to break the light barrier and then slamming on the brakes. Doing so creates two possible outcomes: 1) having the vehicle slide around like a crazy-cool doodlebug while the tires ferociously screech and smoke, or 2) prompting a massive car wreck that maims or kills everyone involved, often in the most gruesome way possible.
WARNING: This video contains graphic scenes of a really bad car crash and at least one severed limb. Do not watch if you find such content objectionable. Instead, enjoy this article, "Why are Saudis Stoning Their Cars?"
The video above shows a group of drifters and onlookers experiencing Scenario No. 2. According to the text that accompanies it on YouTube (which I have not been able to find reprinted in English news outlets, FYI), the accident happened on May 25 in the capital city of Riyadh. The vehicle was traveling at a speed of about 125 m.p.h. when it flipped, and every one of its four occupants died.
The physical turmoil kicked up by this doomed machine is incredible. At the moment everything goes irreversibly wrong, it looks like the car is kicking up a horizontal tornado of dirt. There are six or seven rollovers, limp bodies flying everywhere and a spontaneously amputated limb that lands on the pavement. Needless to say, if this video doesn't get you to slow down a bit on the drive home this week, nothing will.
For a more positive spin on drifting, here are other examples that won't make you want to dive in terror under your desk.