Car Crash Myths
Myth: If the car is not damaged, or has minimal damage, you can’t be hurt.
Truth: This myth is like examining a patient and trying to determine the damage of the car. It doesn’t work that way. The best way to determine the injuries of a patient is to examine the patient. To further illustrate, if you took a baseball bat and beat the car all over, there would be thousands of dollars of damage. How significant of injuries would a person have if they were inside the car at the same time? Minimal to none.Myth: The bigger the dent, the greater the injuries.
Truth: Not always. Cars are designed to withstand impacts of 8-12 MPH without major damage. Impacts at 13-15 MPH often have fewer injuries than impacts less than 10 MPH. Why? Because the car absorbs much of the impact through crumple zones. Often, a car in a crash under 10 MPH does not crumple or exceed the thresholds for crumpling. This means that all of the energy of 3,000-5000 lb. car transfers energy directly through your car, much like the balls in a Newton’s cradle.
Imagine a ball in Newton’s cradle. Pull back the 1st ball and watch as only the ball on the other end is moved. The other 3 balls transfer the energy only to the ball at the end. Imagine your head as that last ball.
Myth: Your head and neck doesn’t travel any further in a whiplash than it does in normal motion, so you can’t get hurt.
Truth: Did you know that your head weighs 8-10 lbs.? About as much as a bowling ball! How hard is it to hold a bowling ball? What if you were to hold that same ball on top of a stick? As long as the stick is exactly centered under the ball, it is not too hard to hold. What if you lean the ball forward? It is much more difficult to hold. The further it gets from the center of gravity, the harder it is (not just linearly, but exponentially). Your head is much like the bowling ball on a stick; the stick is like your neck. It has tons of motion and limited stability. Now think of what happens in whiplash. Like silly putty, in a controlled slow and deliberate fashion, you can get silly putty to stretch a long way before it breaks. If you stretch silly putty abruptly, it will snap right away. This is similar to muscle, tendons, fascia, blood vessels and nerves. A car crash is over in 400 – 600 milliseconds. So even in its normal plain of motion, you can have many significant injuries. This is even worse when the whiplash goes beyond the normal physiologic range.Myth: A person on icy roads gets injured less than a person hit on dry roads.
Truth: Motion causes injuries. The car gets damaged less, but the person gets injured more. Why? Answer: Motion.
The greater the motion, the greater the injuries. There is more whipping around on ice compared to dry roads. To further illustrate; would you rather be hit from behind at 40 MPH if you were in a car with the bumper against the concrete wall, or on ice? Answer: Against a concrete wall. Why? Motion causes injury. The driver in the car on ice is tossed and turned and whipped around a lot more. The patient with the car with the bumper against a concrete wall hardly moves (minimal injury) but the damage to the car is much worse than the car on ice.
What is the most dangerous time to drive when it rains?
Answer: The first few minutes to 30 min. Why? Because the oils are lifted from the road, it makes the roads even slicker, causing more motion and even more injuries.