Car accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and fatality in this country. They account for hundreds of thousands of ER visits each year, and can result in anything from broken bones to traumatic brain injury.
Most car accidents are thankfully minor, but they can result in serious or even life-threatening injuries. While we hope you never have to use this information, these are the essential steps you should take to save your own life in case of a car accident:
One of the best tips is also one of the easiest to follow. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, wearing a seatbelt could cut the number of car accident fatalities in half. It’s also essential to practice proper seatbelt use, which makes sure the technology is doing its job. Your shoulder harness should be across your chest with minimal slack, not behind your back. Your lap belt should lie snug and low across your hips, and always sit upright with your feet on the floor. Your seat belt must sit up against your hip bones in order to properly restrain your body in a crash. Failing to do so could result in serious injuries or even death.
Many passenger vehicles have the option of turning off the airbag. Hearing horror stories about airbags hurting passengers tempts some motorists do so. Here’s the truth: an airbag will likely injure you when it deploys in a crash. It will also likely save your life.
An airbag inflates so fast because they operate on an explosive charge that might burn you on impact, but cushions you from the extreme forces at play in a serious car crash. Know where the airbags are in your vehicle and avoid placing objects between you and the airbag. This might send the force of the object into your body and cause further injuries.
According to a recent study by Intel and the University of California at Irvine, cars contain an average of 4.3 dangerous objects in their cabins. These range from your laptop to your child’s band instrument, even your dog. In a crash, these objects reach a high rate of relative speed that can prove fatal. In other words, your computer could hit you in the back of the head at 50 miles per hour, which could be fatal.
The best way to avoid this risk is to stash all unnecessary items in your trunk where it can’t reach you. If you must keep your loose items in the cabin with you, take steps to secure them. Put your phone or other devices in the glove box or strap your backpack in with a seat belt. Strapping your dog in with a harness is always a good idea for their safety, as well.
This is easier said than done since it’s our body’s natural reaction to tense in response to stress. However, the forces you experience when crashing, even at moderate speeds, can exceed the tensile strength of your muscle and bones. Similarly, ducking can move you out of an airbag’s safety zone. Bracing for impact can lead to broken bones or further injuries from your airbag. Relax, and let the accident run its course. You may not be able to prevent the impact, but you can reduce the amount of damage it causes on your body.
Simple actions can reduce your risk of serious injury in a car accident. While we hope you’re never in the position of using this information, these tips can help improve the outcome of your accident.