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T-Bone Crashes Responsible for 25 Percent of Accident Fatalities

Oct 18, 2014 - Articles by

One out of four roadway deaths in America are caused by side-impact car crashes, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Yet, the federal government does not require side airbags to protect passengers in the event of a broadside, or t-bone, collision. Unlike the front or rear of the car, a vehicle’s sides are structurally unable to withstand the impact or absorb the energy of a crash. When consumers choose vehicles that have side airbags and reinforced structures, they can help to prevent and lessen serious accident injuries, such as:

  • Brain trauma
  • Spinal cord injury
  • Shoulder injury
  • Whiplash

To assist consumers in making educated vehicle choices, crash-safety scores are listed on new cars and can be found on the Internet. These scores reflect the results of side-impact crash simulations conducted by two organizations: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a government organization, and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), an independent nonprofit. However, the simulations and the scores are not the same.

Understanding Crash Tests and Safety Scores

The NHTSA simulation places two crash test dummies reflecting average-sized men in a vehicle: one in the driver’s seat and one directly behind the driver. Then, testers pummel a wall-like barrier into the left side of the car at 38.5 miles per hour to measure the force of impact on the dummies’ heads, necks and chests. Based on the chance of a serious injury to the chest only, the NHTSA will assign a star rating to the vehicle. One star indicates the highest chance of a serious chest injury, and five stars reflect a lower chance. If there is a chance of a serious head injury, the NHTSA will designate it by indicating a “safety concern.” For the IIHS simulation, two crash dummies reflecting average-sized 12-year-old children, or very small women, are placed in the vehicle with one in the driver’s seat and one seated directly behind the driver. Next, a barrier shaped like a standard SUV or pickup truck is slammed into the left side of the vehicle at 31 miles per hour. Measurements of injury to the head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and femur. These measurements are combined to give one comprehensive side-impact rating based on the total performance. Instead of stars, the IIHS issues one of four scores: Good, Acceptable, Marginal or Poor.

Taking Safety Precautions

By understanding and considering the ratings from both groups’ crash simulations, those shopping for vehicles can select an automobile that meets their personal safety standards. However, simply purchasing a vehicle that is equipped with protective measures and a solid safety score does not ensure occupants will be safe in the event of a side-impact collision. Should you or a loved one find yourself injured after a car accident, it is important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. You may be able to pursue financial compensation for your pain, suffering and loss from the at-fault party.