Each year, more than 38,000 Americans are killed in car crashes. Another 4.4 million Americans suffer serious injuries requiring long-term care. Most of these outcomes result from just a few kinds of car crashes. To keep you and your family safe from these terrible accidents, we’ve put together these tips explaining how to prevent the most dangerous car crashes.
The Big Threats
Two of the most dangerous car crashes are the side-impact and the head-on collision. These crashes are deadly because of a combination of the forces involved and the vehicle’s design. To better understand why these crashes cause so many injuries, we need to talk about the “crumple zone.”
The Crumple Zone
The crumple zone is a portion of the vehicle specifically designed to absorb the majority of force in a crash without sacrificing the vehicle’s frame. When a solid object hits the crumple zone, the car is supposed to stop.
A well-designed crumple zone prevents a vehicle from folding up on impact. This, in turn, protects passengers. A crumple zone is especially important for front-facing collisions because the crash tends to push the front of the car into the footwell, which can have devastating consequences on anyone in the front seat.
Unfortunately, safety features are usually designed around the front and back of the car. That means side-impacts tend to be more severe because there’s nothing there to absorb the blow or to protect passengers from the oncoming force. When it comes to side-impact collisions, the best thing you can do is try to avoid them before they happen.
In most side-impact collisions (also called T-Bones), the crumple zone absorbs just 5% of the damage. The rest of that force is transferred to the car in the form of broken windows, a crushed vehicle frame, or even a vehicle rollover.
A side-impact is often unexpected, but there are things you can do to prevent a crash. Before going into an intersection, even at a green light, quickly scan left and right to make sure that other drivers are obeying traffic signals.
Likewise, if you’re at a stop sign, you should make sure the other driver poses no threat to you before you proceed. One of the keys to defensive driving is assuming that drivers around you will always make the wrong decision and that you will be ready to respond if that happens.
Not all side-impacts occur at an intersection. Sudden emergency braking can causes cars to turn sideways. When that happens, the center of gravity shifts and the car is much more susceptible to a rollover. These kinds of crashes tend to be exceptionally deadly because the passengers are bouncing around the vehicle along with broken glass and bits of metal. Again, the crumple zone provides no protection for these crashes.
You can avoid a rollover by being more alert of your surroundings. While reflexes will tell you to brake at the first sign of danger, remember that you don’t want to slam the brakes as hard as you can. A minor fender bender may be frustrating, but its nowhere near as painful as the damages associated with a potential rollover.
When you hit a solid object, like a wall, the vehicle’s force is spread out across the whole wall. The damage is concentrated, but there’s nothing pushing back against the vehicle. A head-on collision is exactly the opposite.
In a head-on collision, both cars receive the full force of the other. That means that they’re not only suffering the damage that their own car caused, but also the damage of the other vehicle. Worst of all, the crumple zone usually fails to absorb all that force. That means the damage in a head-on collision is typically double that of any other car crash, which is partially why about 60% of head-on collisions, sadly, end in at least one fatality.
Head-on collisions are rare, but they tend to occur in low-visibility situations (like thick fog), on narrow roads or bridges, or because of a DUI. While these crashes also depend on the alertness of the other driver, there are a few things you can do to prevent them.
First, follow the speed limit. The faster you’re going, the less time you have to react to an imminent collision. Second, keep an eye out for reckless drivers. If you see someone swerving across the road late at night, it might be better to pull over and let them pass than to risk hitting them at speed. Finally, make sure your mind is focused on driving, and that you don’t fall victim to a driving distraction.
With these tips in mind, we hope that you’ll be able to prevent one of these terrible crashes. However, if you’re ever involved in a severe auto accident, the personal injury attorneys at Piering Law Firm are here for you.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a car crash, you might need an attorney who puts people first. If you’d like an experienced Sacramento injury lawyer from Piering Law Firm to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (916) 476-2399.