A car accident happens fast. More often than not, the way you’re seated at the time of the crash will determine the severity of the injuries. While you can’t always prevent an accident, there are steps you can take to minimize injury in a car crash. Here’s how.
Sitting upright is one of the best ways you can minimize injury in a crash. When cars go through crash testing, the assumption is that those in the vehicle are sitting upright with their feet planted on the floor.
Slouching and reclining your seat too far put you at a much higher risk of injury, especially from issues with the seatbelt and airbags. Likewise, be sure to adjust your headrest so it is comfortably above your head. A well-positioned headrest can significantly reduce your risk of whiplash as it limits your neck’s range of motion in a crash.
You should also keep your seat back a safe distance, at least 10 inches away from either the glove box or the steering wheel. If you’re sitting too far forward, the deploying airbag is more likely to cause serious injury than protect you from the crash.
Feet Off the Dash
While it’s important to keep your feet on the floor, keeping your legs off the dashboard bears special mention. Most passengers don’t realize how dangerous it is to have their legs outstretched on the dashboard or, worse, their feet planted on the glovebox.
When an airbag triggers, it inflates in half a second and bursts from its compartment at 200 miles per hour. If someone’s legs are on the dashboard, they will be pushed away. This can cause severe fractures at the knee or even joints forced from their sockets. If you ever see someone with their feet on the dash, tell them to sit upright and put their feet on the floor.
Brace for Impact
You may have heard that intoxicated people suffer fewer injuries in a car crash because their bodies are relaxed and don’t resist the incoming force. Does that mean you shouldn’t brace for impact? Not quite.
Some studies suggest that bracing for impact tightens your muscles and significantly reduces the risk of arm and ribcage fractures. While tensing up is often reflexive, bracing for impact may protect you from a prolonged hospital stay.
Wear Your Seat Belt (Properly)
It’s important to not only wear your seat belt but wear it correctly. Your seat belt should be snug, not too tight, and not too loose. If it’s too tight, you may want to move your seat backward. If it is consistently too loose, consider taking the car to the shop.
Just as important as wearing your seat belt is wearing it properly. The belt across your waist should rest against your pelvic bone. A waist belt on your abdomen can cause serious organ damage in the event of a crash, whereas a seatbelt closer to your pelvic bone can significantly reduce injury.
Also, be sure that everyone in the vehicle wears a seatbelt. While Georgia law allows adults to ride in the back seat without restraint, not wearing a seatbelt increases the risk of a car crash fatality by upwards of 50%.
Choose a Car Rated for Safety
It’s no secret that each car is designed differently. Some cars have a reinforced frame to resist head-on-collisions, while others have side airbags to protect passengers from t-bone crashes. If you’re in the market for a new car, consider looking at the safety ratings before you make the purchase.
If you’ve had your car for a few years, you may want to find out if you were impacted by a product recall, especially if you’re driving a used car. Each year, around 30 million vehicles are recalled over critical safety concerns.
Each year tens of millions of cars are recalled over defective airbags. These safety devices can be dangerous as it is, but defective models have the potential to cause severe or even fatal injuries.
The best way to identify these problems and prevent maintenance-related crashes is to take your car in for routine maintenance and an oil change every 3,000 miles or so.
Call for Help
So far, we’ve looked at ways to minimize injury before a car crash. Just as important is minimizing the damage after a car crash. Car crashes may cause “latent injuries,” or injuries for which symptoms don’t appear until days or weeks after the crash.
A latent injury can be anything from a concussion to internal bleeding. In either case, it’s important that you get help and see a medical professional immediately after the crash. The sooner you see a doctor, the better your odds of identifying and treating a latent injury before it gets out of control and causes serious injuries.
Going to the doctor immediately after a crash is crucial because it creates a record of your injuries. It tells the insurance companies that potential latent injuries were the direct result of a car crash. That evidence makes it much easier to fight for the full compensation you’re entitled to.
If you suffered serious injuries in a car crash, we are here for you. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Atlanta car accident attorney from Goldstein Hayes & Lina, LLC, please don’t hesitate to call (888) 425-6070 or send us an email.