What happens to your body in a car crash?

Researchers at Monash University are carrying out an in-depth study to analyse what trauma to the body happens in a car crash.

The academics are looking at 390 different accidents to answer a crucial question – why do some people come out unscathed in a car crash, whilst others face serious injuries or even death? The study is titled Australian National Crash In-depth Study (ANCIS).

Their initial findings have presented chilling insights to the trauma faced by the human body in an accident.

Put this together with the road toll and what comes out is a grim outlook emphasising the the need to never take road safety for granted – irresponsible behaviour can have serious repercussions.

Spotlight on the statistics

A total of 390 people have lost their lives on our roads since January 2015.
In April, 103 people died from car crashes in Australia, at the same time in 2014 this toll stood at 73.

Around 260 victims of the accidents studied in the Monash University research received chest injuries (around half of this number were categorised as serious), 50 per cent sustained severe injuries and 40 per cent suffered from head trauma.

Nearly five in 10 of the crashes involved the car colliding with another vehicle.

What happens in a crash?

Regardless of the nature of a crash, it is the speed of a vehicle that will determine the outcome. This means how fast a car is going has a huge impact on the trauma suffered.

The study also showed that wearing a seat belt can truly be a life saver.

In the following sections we will look at what happens to the human body in four different types of crashes: front-on, rear-end, side-on and a multi-car.

Front-on crash

When there is a front-on collision between two vehicles the victim(s) hit the steering wheel and instrument panel. If you are not restrained correctly, you can expect to suffer extensive bodily damage to the chest and lower extremities including pelvis, legs and feet.
Those wearing proper restraints suffer chest and lower limb impact.

Side-on crash

Another term for this type of accident is getting “T-boned”. Even at very low speeds it has the potential to cause substantial damage.

Passengers who are sitting on the side that gets struck are hit by the door pane and suffer injuries to the chest, lower extremities, head and abdomen/pelvis. Those on the opposite side first hit the adjacent person and then in a boomerang effect hit the pillar where the seat belt of the front seat is anchored and sustain head and chest trauma.

Again, the impact is even more serious for those not wearing a seat belt.

Rear-end crash

According to a study by Austroads on crash types, around four in 10 claims for Compulsory Third Party (CTP) insurance arise out of rear-end crashes and account for a quarter of of all CTP costs.

This type of accident usually takes place on high traffic and high-speed roads, and intersections.

The main issue behind this crash is tailgating. Victims suffer what is known as the “whiplash effect” – a quick movement of the head, first towards the front and then to the back.

A rearend crash can cause severe trauma to the chest, head, neck and spine.

Multiple-impact crashes and rollovers

This is the most serious of all crashes and victims not wearing an appropriate restraint are tossed around the car helplessly.
In a rollover when the vehicle does not hit anything else, the occupants usually sustain injuries by hitting the doors and the roof.  A potential cause of serious trauma is when the body is ejected from the vehicle.

In incidents where the car collides with something, pretty much anything in the car can cause damage –  the door, floor,or the steering wheel.

The upper extremities followed by the chest sustain most injuries. Head and face injuries were also found to be quite common.

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