If you think back to the first driving lessons you had, you were likely warned about many of the dangers that exist while you are driving. Your instructor may have warned you about other cars, pedestrians, sun glare, snow, rain, animals, and more. Yet I would wager a lot of money that he did not warn you about meteorites. That’s right, those falling rocks from the sky are a very real and present danger to your driving. Read on to find out more.
In 1992, a woman named Michelle Knapp had her first car. A beautiful 1980s red Chevrolet Malibu. She loved the car and looked after it as best she could. She didn’t have a garage but parked the car on the street without much concern, after all, she lived in a nice neighborhood. One night Michelle was watching television when she heard a loud bang outside. She went outside and found that her car had been wrecked. The right-hand side of the trunk was ruined and the rear tail light was smashed.
Michelle thought back to her early lessons about dangers while driving (although yes this car was parked). She saw no other cars in the area, no animals nearby, there weren’t even any people around. She approached the car for a closer look and found that there was a hole going through the trunk of the car. Under the car, buried in the ground was a rock that was too hot to touch. Knapp immediately suspected vandals and called the police. By this time neighbors too were outside trying to understand what the noise was.
One assured Michelle that there was no way a vandal could have done this and that this particular hot rock must have come from the sky. A day later an expert in meteorites called to Michelle and explained what had happened. The meteor was not a surprise as many had gone outside to watch it fly across the sky last night. No one knew where it had landed until Michelle’s police report came in.
The meteorite was moved to the museum of natural history yet Knapp received no money from them for the rock. Her car was ruined and meteorites aren’t usually covered under insurance policies. Luckily a collector of meteorites soon gave her a call and bought the car for twice what she had paid. While she thought she got a great bargain at the time that car became famous, it went on tours across America and is now insured for $1 million.
Meteorites hitting the Earth is not as strange as it sounds. It is estimated that around 500 meteorites hit the Earth each year, more than once a day. Yet less than 10 are recovered. To date, there have been over 1,000 recovered falls (where the meteor was seen to fall) and 40,000 finds (discovered but not witnessed). It is estimated that a meteorite will hit a man-made object on Earth about once a year. So while it is unlikely it could possibly be your car next.
There are many reports of people receiving injuries from meteorites. In 1994 one man from Spain was driving when the meteorite crashed through his windshield, bent his steering wheel, and broke his finger. The meteorite that struck him was only three pounds. The one that hit Michelle’s car was 26. In 2013 a meteor hit Russian soil and was so big that it created an air blast big enough to break the windows of surrounding houses. It injured 1,000 people.
It appears that as drivers we actually have one more thing to worry about. While it is highly unlikely that your car will be hit by a meteor it is still something to consider. Although we don’t recommend checking it with your insurance provider the next time your policy needs to be renewed as they would love an excuse to increase your premium.