It was the first cold winter morning in quite some time. In fact, it was so cold that Stefan Sellner first had to scrape a thin film of ice off the windshield of the white E-Class Coupe before work could get started. Work was the operative word here, since it was obvious that the vehicle itself wasn’t going anywhere. Indeed, it was pretty clear that the car in the parking lot of a Mercedes-Benz dealership wouldn’t be leaving its location any time soon, despite the fact that it was only a few months old. The vehicle’s radiator grille was completely dented, the bumper was on the ground next to the car, and the deep scratches on the side of the body looked like a thick scar on what was otherwise a flawless diamond-white paint job.
However, it was precisely these dents, scratches and dislodged components that had led Stefan Sellner and his colleague Uwe Nagel to this location. Both of them work at Mercedes-Benz Accident Research in Sindelfingen, Germany. And for them the white coupe was just part of a normal day on the job. Nagel had talked on the phone with the driver of the car involved in the accident a few days previously, and he remembered quite well what the driver had told him about the crash. “He was driving on the motorway in the rain, in the left lane,” Nagel explained. “He says the car then suddenly went out of control. He tried to regain control of the vehicle by steering and braking. This caused him to spin around, after which he crashed into the guardrail head-on and ended up stopping on the shoulder.”