There are 6 million car accidents per year in America. On average, 1-in-6 of those crashes are fatal. Serious car accidents wreak devastation upon motorists and their families. Why does this happen? What kind of car accidents are more likely to result in tragedy?
To help people understand the severity of extreme car crashes and how these accidents can be prevented, we’ve compiled a list of the five worst kinds of car accidents.
Head-on Collision with an Object
Imagine driving down I-24 toward Nashville when a merging driver cuts you off. You’re forced out of your lane and barrel onto the shoulder, right into a lamppost. The front of the car crumples like aluminum foil while the post only takes a minor scratch.
Thankfully, most new cars have a built-in safety design called the “crumple zone.” The front and back of the car are designed to absorb extreme incoming force. The front of the car, for example, will fold in around the engine block.
A well-designed crumple zone paired with front and side airbags can dramatically reduce the force of impact. In many cases, crash test dummies subjected to head-on collisions with an object suffered minor neck injuries and had a low risk of serious injury.
However, the crumple zone is only effective in a head-on or rear collision. Angled crashes and overlaps pose significant risks.
Side Impact Collision
Motor vehicles are designed to absorb blows from the front and back. That’s partially why side-impact collisions are so dangerous. On average, the sides of a vehicle only absorb 5% of the impact. That means the other vehicle keeps moving, launching a fast-moving spread of glass shards and hitting the driver at nearly full force.
Side collisions, also known as T-Bones, are most common at intersections, especially left turns. That’s because a left turn requires that a driver turn against the flow of traffic and simultaneously expose themselves to oncoming traffic.
Some side-impact collisions hit with enough force to send cars rolling like a barrel. These accidents tend to be extremely dangerous as glass shatters and passengers bounce around the inside of the vehicle, hitting their bodies against exposed metal and broken glass.
While some side-impact collisions result in a rollover, about 80% of these accidents are the result of reckless speeding and DUIs. When a reckless driver is going well above the speed limit, they may fail to notice a stop sign or another vehicle until it’s too late.
Slamming the brakes causes the vehicle to slide sideways, creating a pivot point. This shifts the center of gravity and makes a vehicle far more likely to tip over.
Head-on Collision with a Vehicle
A head-on collision with a fixed object is very different from one with a vehicle. In a head-on collision with a vehicle, each car receives the full force of the other. The energy must be dispersed. The scene can only end when all the energy is used up, and both cars come to a complete stop.
A head-on collision with a vehicle has twice the energy of a head-on collision with an object. A vehicle is not only propelling itself into an object, but the object is moving toward it at the same speed. That’s partially why 58% of head-on vehicle collisions end in tragedy.
What happens if the crumple zone doesn’t fully absorb the blow? Vehicles are designed to absorb blows directly from the front and back, but if something clips the car on the edge of the hood, the passengers are at incredible risk.
Without the protection of the crumple-zone, the metal will fold on itself and may be forced into the cabin, dramatically increasing damage to the legs. In addressing this design error, some auto manufacturers added a reinforced metal block on the front of the axel. This creates a secondary crumple zone that doesn’t absorb the whole blow but is effective at reducing the damage.
Unfortunately, many vehicles only include a secondary crumple zone on the driver’s side. That means passenger injuries in a small overlap are usually far deadlier than those inflicted on the driver.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a distracted driving accident, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Clarksville car accident lawyer from Pete Olson Injury Attorneys to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (931) 286-7773.