Tips for Surviving Motor Vehicle Collisions


This Straight, No Chaser post discusses surviving motor vehicle collisions.

As you drive the expressways of some cities, you can now see signs displaying how many traffic deaths have occurred during the year. I’m sure the purpose of these announcements is to keep drivers alert to the real dangers of driving and to remind us to drive safely. We discussed the magnitude of motor vehicles crashes (they’re not accidents) in the last Straight, No Chaser. However, when prevention hasn’t kept you out of harm’s way, what you do next can make a world of difference. Here are 10 quick tips to keep you upright.

If you see an accident happening in front of you …

Whitetail deer jumping a fence into a roadway.

1) Move away from the steering wheel/dashboard. That airbag will be coming at you at approximately 200 MPH. It can cause burns and other injuries on its own. You want both hands on the wheel as loose as possible during impact.

2) If possible, angle the car for a glancing blow. Try to avoid the head-on collision, especially with the bigger object. Similarly, the ‘T-bone’ side impact collision is especially dangerous, as the car is structurally weaker on the side, and the side is closer to passengers.

3) Slow down as best you can, but also try to control your deceleration. The faster the impact, the worse the damage will be.

4) If there’s time and you haven’t already, get that seat belt on.

5) If there’s time, get any potential projectile from where it may strike you. That’s off the seat, dashboard and cup holders. Hot coffee in your face or being slashed by your phone won’t feel good.

After the crash…surviving motor vehicle collisions

6) Call emergency medical services as your first move after a crash.

7) If you have any neck pain, as best you can, do not move. Period.

8) If you are pregnant, get onto your left side while you wait.

9) After a crash, switch off your engine, do not smoke, and stop anyone else from smoking. You will not be in a position to put out any fire you start and if flammables are in either car, you could be setting up an explosion.

10) Do not attempt to remove injured people from a vehicle yourself; leave that to the paramedics. You could be aggravating a neck (spinal) injury that is not obvious at that point.

It bears repeating: the best way to survive car crashes is not to be involved in one.

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