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Car Accidents - Vehicle Crashworthiness

Robert Karns

When car accidents occur it is extremely important to investigate the vehicle crashworthiness of the car when personal injuries are involved. During the car accident, if the vehicle involved does not have good crashworthiness the injuries involved will be far worse.

Crashworthiness safety systems in cars do not prevent accidents from occurring, they minimize the risks of serious injury or death once the accident happens.

Vehicle crashworthiness focuses on protecting occupants involved in frontal, side, rear and rollover accidents by using various safety systems.

If a vehicle is crashworthy, the vehicle is safer and the following occurs:

  • Minimizes the crushing of where the occupants are in the vehicle
  • Provides proper restraints throughout the entire accident
  • Prevents ejection from the vehicle
  • Distributes the energy, minimizing the crash force
  • Prevents fires after the crash

Seatbelts and airbags are well known safety systems to help make the vehicle safer. In addition, manufacturers of cars are now concentrating on safety cages (the area where the occupants are in the vehicle). In a vehicle that has good crashworthiness the area around where the occupants are in the vehicle has the highest strength steel.

Car accidents can be broken down into two collisions.  The first collision would be the car accident itself.  The second collision occurs during the first collision depending on the crashworthiness of the vehicle. If the vehicle does not have good crashworthiness the injuries from the initial collision will be far worse. This process of becoming more severely injured if a vehicle does not have good crashworthiness is known as the second collision.

Airbags do not always deploy during a crash.  Some of the reasons an airbag will not deploy are as follows:

  • Crash is not severe enough to cause the airbag to deploy.
  • Many advanced frontal airbag systems automatically turn off the passenger airbag when the vehicle detects a small stature passenger or child.
  • Some advanced side airbag systems will similarly shut off the passenger side airbag system when detecting a small stature passenger or child.
  • Some vehicles such as pick-up trucks or sports cars without rear seats may have a manual on/off switch for the front airbag.
  • If the airbag readiness light is on warning the occupants that the airbag needs service then the airbag will not deploy.
  • In used vehicles it is possible that an airbag did not deploy as it was not replaced after a prior collision.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety measures the crashworthiness of a vehicle and helps determine how well the vehicle protects its occupants during the accident. The following link can be utilized to help determine the crashworthiness of the vehicle you may want to purchase: www.iii.org/auto_crash_test/

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