Driving is a common activity that many people do every day. However, it can also be one of the most dangerous things you do. Think about it; there is minimal training to learn how to drive and there are a wide range of distractions. With these two elements combined, it is no surprise that many people are injured and killed in car crashes every year.
People are not physically designed to withstand car accidents. That is, unless you are “Graham.” Created as part of a new Australian road safety campaign by the Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Graham was designed by sculptor Patricia Piccinini, a leading trauma surgeon, and a road safety engineer. Taking the human body, Piccinini and her team modified it based on their own knowledge of traffic accidents. The result is not pretty. Graham does not have a neck because these snap too easily in car accidents. He also has a flat, fleshy face so his ears, eyes, and nose are protected. He also has many extras nipples, each added to protect his ribs like a natural set of airbags. This article is brought to you from the Broward car accident attorneys at Wolf and Pravato
Learn the Right Way
Unless you are like “Graham,” it may be a good idea to take steps to protect yourself when driving. When you are trying to avoid any type of accident, the best approach is a preemptive approach. While you cannot control other people on the road, you can certainly control yourself. Start by getting the right training and skill set to properly and safely operate a vehicle. Driving is something that must be learned and practiced. Your first line of defense against a car crash is to have your own well-developed set of driving skills and experience.
Utilize Safety Features
Along with knowing how to properly operate a vehicle, it is also important that you take full advantage of the safety features available in your vehicle. Every vehicle is equipped with a seatbelt. Because accidents cannot always be avoided, whether because of road conditions or another driver, it is important that you take every step you can to keep yourself safe. Your seatbelt and the other safety features in your vehicle act as backup, should you actually get in an accident. According to the NHTSA, half of all automobile accident deaths could be prevented by proper seatbelt usage. To help people know how to properly use seatbelts, the NHTSA advises:
- A shoulder harness be worn across the shoulder and chest with minimal, if any slack. The shoulder harness should not be worn under the arm or behind the back. Wearing the harness the wrong way could cause serious internal injuries in a crash.
- The lap belt should be adjusted so that it is snug and lies low across your hips after fastening.
- The driver/passenger should be seated upright with your back against the seat and feet on the floor. Improper seating positions can result in reduced effectiveness of seatbelts.
In addition to seatbelts, vehicles are also equipped with other safety features, like airbags. While an airbag can save your life, it can also injure you. Airbags have been known to burn skin and even break bones. Because they can cause harm, it is important to know where the airbags are inside your car and avoid placing obstacles between them and your body.
While you might not think much of laying your cell phone in your lap as you drive, or have your pet untethered in the back of the vehicle, these could easily become dangerous flying objects during a crash. Intel and the University of California, Irvine conducted a study that found that cars contain an average of 4.3 potentially dangerous loose objects in their cabins. While alone these objects are not dangerous, in a crash, these objects are accelerated to high rates of relative speed almost instantaneously. This can make them fatal.
Make sure that all loose items are in the trunk or otherwise secured. While you should always require passengers to wear a seatbelt when riding in your vehicle, you must also ensure that any pets who ride are also properly secured. Pets that are not secured will also become flying projectiles in a crash, which could kill them and likely injure or kill you, too. Use a Ruffwear Load Up Harness or other safety device to secure your pets when they ride.
How to Minimize an Accident
Sometimes, car accidents are unavoidable. If you know what you are doing and can keep your cool, you have a good chance of minimizing the accident.
- Begin by staying calm. Respond quickly but smoothly to better control steering and braking. Jerky motions on the wheel can cause skids.
- You must decide what combination of steering, braking and accelerating will minimize the harm you and your vehicle receive from an accident.
- Don’t always brake. While it is most drivers’ instinct to break at the sign of an accident, sometimes you need to accelerate. Sometimes the best way to avoid an accident is to speed up and get out of the way.
- If you lose control, such as skidding, take concerted efforts to regain control. This includes not hitting the breaks and keeping a firm grip on the wheel. Gently steer in the direction of the skid until your tires regain traction. Once they do, you can break or speed up, depending on the situation.
- Avoid head-on collisions. Do what you can to avoid running into another vehicle or immovable object, like a tree.
- Avoid side impacts. Side impacts are especially dangerous because the side is much weaker structurally and closer to the driver.
After a crash, the danger is not over. It is important that you know when you can safely exit your vehicle. Once your vehicle has stopped moving, turn off your engine. Start by assessing the situation. If you and your passenger(s) are uninjured, check to see if you are in a safe position to leave your car (i.e. busy street). If it is safe to leave your car, do so and move to a safe distance away. Then, you should call for help.
Article – Fremont College.
Intel/U of C Study – https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/b1f9/a9d35ffee36fe4ba28265852fc92be8b7eb2.pdf