Weighing the Dangers of Flying Missiles in Motor Vehicle Crashes
I will never forget an image that I saw several years ago from a motor vehicle crash. A driver in that crash had a pen stuck right to his neck, as if it was a flying dart stuck to a dart board. The driver did survive the crash, but had to go through an intense surgery procedure to remove the so-called “pen” from his neck.
A weightless tissue box, a music CD, a portable iPod, or even a petite pen might not seem like deadly objects. However, they sure can be during the impact time of a speeding motor vehicle crash. When a crash does occur, speed worsens its severity by increasing the energy of the impact. The higher the speed of the vehicle, the more severe the impact during the crashes’ secondary collision. The secondary collision is when drivers and passengers make impact with objects inside the vehicle. That object can definitely be a loose item in the vehicle that has transformed into a dangerous flying missile during the crash.
When a vehicle and all its contents, including passengers and objects are traveling at speed, they have inertia which means that they will want to continue forward with that direction and speed (Newton’s first law of motion). In the event of a sudden deceleration of a rigid framed vehicle due to impact, contents that are unrestrained inside the vehicle will continue moving forward at their previous speed due to inertia. They will impact the vehicle interior, with a force equivalent to many times their normal weight due to gravity. During this frightening situation in a speeding motor vehicle crash, a “tissue box” can transform itself into a heavy brick and has been cited as the cause of death in at least one crash. And yes a “petite pen” can transform itself into a flying arrow or dart.
Thousands of individuals have been severely injured and killed in motor vehicles crashes primarily due to the secondary collision with an unsecured object in the vehicle. So here is where prevention can be your lifesaver to avoid these tragic situations from occurring. Some tips to consider:
- The first prevention tip is an obvious one but one that should never be underestimated, and that is “do not speed”; to reiterate, the higher the speed, the heavier the object in a motor vehicle crash.
- The second prevention tip is to ask yourself if it’s a necessity for an object to be inside your vehicle, for example “Is it really necessary to have 60 music compact disc’s in my vehicle?” The more objects inside the vehicle, the greater the chance that they can strike victims as flying missiles in a crash; In other words, “less is better”.
- The third prevention tip is to secure objects that are of a necessity to travel with you in a motor vehicle, store them in the vehicle’s glove compartment or trunk’s interior. It is also a very valuable tip when it comes to auto theft prevention.
We can all do our part so we do not become targets of flying missiles in motor vehicle crashes. Be aware of the dangers that lie both inside and outside of your vehicle. Reduce the items you carry inside your vehicle and store them in your glove compartment or trunk.