Cars have come a long way from Henry Ford’s Model T that was first launched over 110 years ago. A majority of Americans today feel safe while driving or riding in a modern vehicle, equipped with seatbelts (an addition made in 1968) and air bags (first seen in 1981).
However, even as technology has advanced, the modern vehicle still remains a lethal weapon as evidenced by the 38,824 deaths resulting from motor vehicle crashes in 2020, 117% more deaths than just 10 years prior. A significant number of crashes involve side impacts, making it one of the most common types of car crash.
Just how bad are side impact crashes?
Twenty-three percent of passenger deaths in 2020 occurred from side impact, or T-bone style, crashes. But what makes side impact crashes so deadly? Research from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety shows that when struck from the side, seatbelts and car seats are not as effective. Simply put, they are designed to stop the force generated from forwards and backwards impact.
When the force comes from the side, a passenger’s seat belt may not lock in place and instead, allow for the person to slide from side to side. The sideward movement makes the likelihood of hitting the window or frame of the vehicle much more likely, commonly resulting in head injuries. Because of this, many vehicle manufacturers are now installing side airbags to help prevent such injuries. However, these side airbags are not yet mandatory, especially for rear passengers.
How does my car rank for side impact safety?
According to Consumer Reports, only one out of seven midsize cars tested received a “Marginal” rating and three out of seven received a “Poor” rating, the two lowest possible scores, when replicating the side impact of being struck by an SUV at just 37 miles per hour.
The average highway speed in America is 70.4 miles per hour, 33.4 miles per hour greater than the speed at which severe damage was proven to occur. The names of these cars may shock you. Without improvements, these vehicles may lose their Consumer Reports Top Safety Pick Status in the coming years, possibly as soon as 2023:
- Toyota Camry
- Nissan Altima
- Honda Accord
- Chevrolet Malibu
The parameters of this test include the amount of damage sustained by the driver and rear passengers. Although federal and state laws regulate how children can safely ride in vehicles, even the most cautious caregiver is placing their juvenile passengers at risk every time they take them out on the road where a less cautious driver can strike them from the side.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 380 children were injured in motor vehicle crashes every single day in 2020. Without proper and functioning safety equipment, such as a side air bag, the likelihood and severity of injury increases exponentially.
You’re a cautious driver; why should you worry?
While you may be doing your best to follow “the rules of the road” every time you get behind the wheel or strap into a vehicle as a passenger, the fact remains that roadways are only as safe as its most dangerous traveler. Sometimes all the precautions in the world cannot prevent a collision if another driver isn’t paying attention, speeds through a red light or takes any other careless action that leads to a collision. Non-human elements can increase the chances of a collision with otherwise “safe” drivers. For example, poor weather conditions can create reduced visibility and braking abilities.
Once a collision has occurred you will likely experience a wave of emotions. Your adrenaline will likely kick in. You may panic and be unable to remember the exact events right after they happened. Was your light green? Or was it yellow? Even if you are unsure of the exact sequence of events, our legal team is here and trained to help you make sense of what happened and ensure that you and your loved ones are justly compensated.
Why you should be wary of side impact crashes
Your car is no less safe than it was the moment you began reading this. The purpose is to make you aware of these additional, and potentially fatal, risks and benefits with purchasing or riding in any vehicle so you can perform an informed consideration of the facts. Regardless of the protection in your current vehicle it is always important to ensure all car seats are property installed and configured, prevent small children from sitting in the front seat, and confirming all adult passengers utilize both the lap and shoulder seat belts.
The good news is side impact protection is available in some models on the market for those who love driving and riding in mid-sized sedans. The Subaru Outback achieved a “Good” rating, making it the safest of the seven tested vehicles to withstand a side impact crash from an SUV. This is extremely important since trucks and SUVs account for more than 80% of car sales in the country, per Jalopnik.
If you find yourself the victim of one of these horrific crashes it’s imperative you have legal representation to help you. Being struck from the side frequently results in significant injuries and head trauma that may cause you to be out of work. The Tulsa car accident attorneys at Biby Law Firm can help you recover the compensation you deserve. Call our office at 918-574-8458, or submit our contact form to schedule a free consultation.
Jacob Biby has spent his legal career helping folks just like you get the resources they need after an injury. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oklahoma State University and earned his Juris Doctorate from the University of Tulsa in 2008. Jacob is licensed to practice in all Oklahoma state and federal courts, and has limited his career to representing individuals and families who were injured by the negligence of other people or corporations. Learn more about Jacob Biby.