The odds of dying in a car accident are around one in 583 in the United States. The odds of getting into a nonfatal car accident are even higher. For most people, therefore, getting into an accident is not a matter of if, but of when. You may not always be able to prevent a car crash, but you can prepare for one. One thing you could do to better protect your family and decrease the risk of fatal injury is to eliminate dangerous loose objects from the cab of your vehicle.
A car accident does not involve just one collision. Instead, each crash has three separate collisions: the vehicle collision, human collision, and internal collision. The vehicle collision occurs when the car smashes into another vehicle or object. The human collision occurs when something inside the vehicle stops the occupant’s forward motion from the crash, such as a seatbelt or airbag. The internal collision occurs when the organs’ forward motion stops after colliding with other organs or the skeleton.
Loose objects in the vehicle can contribute to injuries sustained during the human collision. Objects such as electronic devices, loose food containers or canned goods, luggage, boxes, tools, and children’s toys can strike passengers with deadly force during an accident. A laptop, for example, can become a deadly projectile traveling at 60 miles per hour. When the vehicle abruptly stops (collides with something), the laptop will continue its forward motion at the same speed – until it collides with something inside the cab.
If the laptop, or another loose object in the vehicle, collides with the driver or a passenger at this speed, the impact could be fatal. The body may not be able to withstand the forces of the accident that caused the object to fly at the person at high speed. The victim could sustain a fatal head injury, traumatic brain damage, neck injury, multiple fractures, spinal cord injury, or other major injury because of a loose flying object in the vehicle during a collision. The more loose objects someone has inside his/her vehicle, the higher the risk of serious injury.
Like loose objects, unrestrained passengers can also become deadly projectiles in a car accident. Passengers who do not use their seatbelts can move about the cab of the vehicle in a crash, striking other passengers at high speeds. Colliding parts, such as two heads, could be deadly for both people involved. Always insist on your passengers wearing seatbelts before every trip – for their safety and yours.
Decrease the odds of suffering a fatal injury in a car accident by eliminating loose objects in your vehicle. Keep cargo only in the trunk or cargo area of your vehicle, where the odds are lower that it can fly forward and strike passengers. Use tools such as cargo nets and tethers to secure objects within a cargo hold. Putting objects in the pockets on the backs of the seat, in gloveboxes, and in other compartments does not eliminate the risk of projectiles, and they can come loose in the forces of the accident. Leave loose objects home as much as possible.
If you are driving with a pet, use something such as a pet harness or seatbelt specifically made for pets to secure your pet to the seat. Otherwise, your dog or cat could become a fatal projectile just like other loose objects. An 80-pound dog striking you during a high-speed collision could easily be deadly for both you and your pet. Secure your pet as you would human passengers to protect both of you.