Car crashes are a serious problem in America, leading to thousands of injuries yearly. Many people die from the injuries they suffer as well. What exactly happens to the body during a crash that can cause such significant injuries?
The first aspect to consider is how a body moves in an impact. With kinetic energy and forces acting on the body, many injuries, from organ damage to broken bones, can occur. Here’s a little more on how a car crash can cause significant harm to the human body.
To start with, kinetic energy doesn’t dissipate quickly from the human body. In a vehicle, the kinetic energy, which is the energy you possess by moving, is released through braking. You have no brakes on your body, so the energy keeps you moving forward, even if the vehicle stops. You’d only slow down because of coming into contact with another object, like your seat belt. If you’re not wearing your seat belt, then the thing you come into contact with that stops you might be a dashboard, windshield, the back of a seat, or even the road.
Your body generally has to absorb some of the impacts of the collision, particularly if you’re not strapped into your seat. You get hurt when your body can’t take the impact and absorb it quickly.
As an example, think about hitting your head on a window. At slow speeds, the impact spreads across the skin and skull, causing no injury other than some minor bruising. However, in a high-impact crash, the skull can’t handle all the impact and spreads the energy through the brain, skull, skin, and so on. The higher the impact force, the greater the injury.
In a crash where you injure the chest, this can mean breaking ribs and impacting the organs beneath. For crashes that affect the pelvis, it’s possible to damage the abdominal region seriously. There is little to absorb energy there, which is why it’s so important to wear a lap belt correctly.
The energy of a crash is proportional to the square of the speed driven. Plainly stated, if you’re going three times the speed limit, you have a nine-times greater force acting against you in a crash. To stay safe in a collision, do all you can to slow before impact. It could be the difference between suffering life-threatening injuries and walking away from the crash.