Problem-Based Learning Clearinghouse\
    A Bad Day for Sandy Dayton  
Part 1

Sandy was on her way to the University on a beautiful mild day in March. She was listening to her favorite CD while she thought about the spring Break trip she was planning with two of her friends. Just as she approached the corner of South College and Delaware Avenues, she noticed that the light had turned yellow and students were already starting to move across the intersection. She slammed on her brakes and came to a screeching halt. A large delivery truck was following closely behind Sandy's car. Sandy heard brakes screeching behind her and then felt the truck crash into the rear of her car. The impact shoved her car into the intersection before it came to a stop. Luckily, Sandy escaped serious injury, as did the driver of the truck. Unfortunately, her car looked like it would be totaled.

Two Newark policemen arrived on the scene to investigate the accident. Once they decided that there were no serious injuries, they started investigating the crash.


  1. What questions do the police officers need to answer in order to reconstruct the accident and decide if one of the drivers should be cited?
  2. What information will the officers already know, what measurements will they need to make, and what data will they need to gather?
  3. If Sandy had been traveling at a constant speed of 30 mph, how could you represent her motion as she drove on S. College Ave.?
  4. If she is traveling at a constant speed, what can you say about the forces on the car?
  5. What factors influence how quickly a driver can come to a stop?
  6. Which the driver can influence, and which are not?
  © Barbara Duch, Univ. of Delaware, 2001.
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