Surprisingly few people understand the comprehensive nature of car crashes. Many fatalities are less a matter of bad luck and more an issue of preventable circumstances. In fact, there are several tidbits of knowledge that can aid you in the event of a car crash. Below, we’ve listed some little-known facts about automotive accidents that may surprise you.
Fact 1: Frontal collisions are usually safer than side-swipes.
The crumple zone, an area of the automotive specifically made to crunch in the event of a collision, is usually concentrated in a car’s hood. The extra space absorbs the kinetic energy as it crumples, but in side-swipe accidents, there may only be a mere 15 centimeters between you and the oncoming car. The Honda Accord, one of the most popular cars in the US, has a hood around 60 inches in length. Compared to a meager 15 centimeters, that’s approximately ten times more space for kinetic energy to be absorbed. Severe injuries, including ones to the chest, head, and insides, are common in side-swipes and the risk of fatality is much higher than in frontal collisions.
Fact 2: Small speed changes make a huge difference.
“The energy of a car crash,” says Jason Hennessey, marketing consultant for Houston Accident Attorney, a law firm that handles automotive accidents, “is proportional to the square of the speed. Even slowing down five miles per hour can drastically influence the potential for injuries.” Putting it simply, a 1 percent change in speed results in a 2 percent change in injury accidents. However, the chances for severe injuries increase 3 percent and the possibility of fatality increases 4 percent. Slowing down 5 miles per hour may just save your life.
Fact 3: Cell phones are more dangerous than you know.
Most people are aware that cell phones inhibit reaction speeds and driver focus, with a recent study indicating texting increases the chances of a crash by anywhere from 8 to 23 times. What you may not know is that cell phones are now being used to recreate accidents and determine fault, which can lead to steep penalties.
Fact 4: Parking lots are not as benign as they seem.
Don’t let the low speed limits lull you into a false sense of safety; parking lots are the most common site for an accident. The National Safety Council has stated that 1 in 5 accidents occur in these locations.
Fact 5: Night driving is dangerous.
The risk of a fatality during a crash increases threefold after the sun sets. Many factors influence this upsurge: fatigue and reduced depth perception, color recognition, and peripheral vision are just a few. However, that doesn’t mean you should leave your brights on the entire time you drive. Recent attention to damaging LED headlights has led to a national petition to ban blinding headlights. They may help you see, but they are dangerous to others.
In the case of driving, knowledge may just save your life.