According to the Centers for Disease Control, car crashes are the first cause of death in those ages 1-54 in the U.S. and in 2012, nonfatal crash injuries accounted for over $50 billion in lifetime medical and work loss costs. The consequences of car crash injury can be long lasting, oftentimes resulting in long term damage to the quality of your life, as well as to your livelihood. However, there are a few ways lessen the risk for injury if you happen to be in an automobile crash.
WEAR A SEATBELT
One of the best ways to prevent or minimize injury in a car crash is to have on a seatbelt. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that seatbelts reduce crash-related injuries and deaths by about half. In addition to keeping you safe, buckling in will prevent you from getting a traffic ticket. Missouri state law requires all drivers and passengers to wear seat belts – click it or ticket!
ADJUST THE HEADREST PROPERLY
One of the most common types of crash-related injuries that occur are soft tissue injuries to the neck and back, damaging the area’s muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Soft tissue injuries are most often caused by whiplash – a common occurrence in rear collisions, when the head and neck snap back then fly forward following impact. These injuries can manifest a broad variety of negative symptoms. Properly adjusting your headrest can ameliorate whiplash.
Your headrest should be adjusted as close to the back of your head as possible. Reducing the amount of space between the headrest and your can decrease the force with which the head and neck will jerk forward as a result of flying back. Your headrest should be level to the top of your head and there should be no more than two inches of space between the headrest and the back of your head. The standard head rest is designed for the height of the average American man (5’10), so it is suggested that women and shorter men adjust the headrest down as much as possible.
DON’T SIT TOO CLOSE TO THE WHEEL
Sitting too close to the wheel can result in being hit directly by the air bag following a collision. Airbags deploy at speeds nearing 200 mph and often cause chest injuries like rib and sternum fractures, as well as pulmonary and cardiac trauma. To prevent injury, it is recommended that you sit no closer than 10 inches to the wheel.
SECURE ALL ITEMS
It is suggested that you place all unsecured items under the seat or in the trunk of the car. Books, CDs, purses, and smaller items can easily fit under the seat; anything larger should go in the trunk. Doing this prevents items from becoming projectiles in a crash and harming passengers. Heavy items in the trunk should be tethered down to prevent them from slamming into the back passenger compartment in the case of a crash.
In the event that you see a car quickly approaching and anticipate an oncoming collision, studies have proven that bracing your body for the collision can minimize injury. The best way to brace your body for a crash is to follow these steps:
- Brace your head against the headrest.
- Continue looking forward. Your chance of injury increases if your head is turned upon impact.
- Press your foot into the break while pushing your back into the seat. Keeping your foot on the break prevents your car from being thrust into traffic and possibly causing another crash.
- Tense all your muscles. Tensing your muscles will assist in reducing the risk of muscle and ligament injury.
If you are in an auto crash you may not immediately realize you have been injured, as many crash-related injuries have symptoms that appear over time. We suggest that you seek immediate medical care following any automobile crash as a preventative measure. If you feel you may have been injured, you should also contact a personal injury lawyer. At Cantor Injury Law, we have successfully represented thousands of people in car crash cases, recovering millions of dollars in compensation. If you have any questions about a car crash, give us a call at (314) 628-9999.