Doofus Of The Day #993

Another motoring Doofus, this one in England.

A driver’s ‘Smart’ car burst into flames on a filling station forecourt after she put petrol into the wrong hole.

Julie Nicklin, 54, was trapped inside her vehicle as it became a fireball when she mistakenly poured the fuel into the car’s interior through a detachable cap on one side of the car – not the one containing its fuel tank.

The mother-of-two ignited the fuel as she turned the ignition key.

The 2005 Fortwo Pulse instantly exploded and trapped her inside, while it caused other motorists on the forecourt to run for cover.

Her clothes and her glasses were scorched, but Mr Turner said he believes what saved her was the fact that the large puffer-style jacket she was wearing did not set on fire.

There’s more at the link.

The driver certainly merits a Doofus award, but what about the car designer who included a ‘detachable cap’ that gives access to the car interior, but isn’t a gas cap?  Sounds confusing to me.



  1. The thing that gets me about these ‘Smart Cars’ is that although they look like the might be agile and fun to drive they are apparently fairly nasty with hard rides, poor balance, and bad steering. So, is the whole point the feeling of spurious moral superiority?

  2. They simply burial arrangements in the event of a fatal collision. Just weld on handles, cover with a shroud, and there's no need to buy a coffin.

    She didn't smell the gallons of gasoline inside the car? Shades of this scene from Cheech and Chang's Next Movie.

  3. I just looked at images of that particular year model, and both driver side and passenger side have what appears to be filler caps from the outside. Definitely NOT an idiot-proof design.

  4. So, she couldn't out of the car because she parked too close to the pump. But not so close that a stranger couldn't open the door and drag her out. (Does England still have full service stations?) Did she really start the car while it was full of gasoline? Did she really start the car while the pump nozzle was still attached to it? How did she not hear the fluid sloshing into the interior, much less smell it?

    The stupid, it burns.

  5. I wonder if the design is to allow for filler placement on either side of the vehicle (for example, to allow driver side access in both right and left hand drive countries), but it is negligent to not cover or fill in the 'off side' fill to prevent someone doing exactly this!

    While I have not driven one, I to have heard that they ride rough and are noisy – to me they seem designed for local low speed driving and minimal use.
    I have met people who tow them behind motorhomes; one had a sense of humor and had added a sticker saying "Undersized Load" to theirs.

  6. This is what comes of focusing on making Smart Cars, instead of making Smart Drivers.

    If someone would just invent an ignition lock that keeps you from starting a car until you can blow at least a 95 IQ, society would be much better off.

    As it is, this ding-a-ling's puffer jacket cheated her of a well-deserved Darwin Award.

  7. For what it's worth, the "port" she used was the air intake for the engine. She didn't fill the car with gas, just the inlet manifold.

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