Every crash brings two collisions

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Xaviera McFadden
  • 39th Air Base Wing ground safety manger
Contrary to popular opinion, people do not die in automobile crashes. Instead, they die from a separate event caused by the automobile crash called "the human collision."

The human collision is a secondary crash that usually takes place inside the car when the occupant hits the dashboard, windshield, or other interior car parts or equipment. At other times, the human collision takes places when the person is ejected from the vehicle. This collision can be with the road, pole, or another vehicle. And, just as an automobile can crush and break when it crashes into a tree; the human body crushes and breaks when it crashes into a steering wheel or street light.

So herein in lies the predicament: when a car crashes, it stops completely, but the human body inside continues moving until it hits something harder than itself. This is where injuries - and deaths - can and often do occur.

Nothing can prevent this second human collision, but its severity can be reduced by the use of a simple devise: the seat belt.

The seat belt gives the body something softer and more "friendly" to collide into than the hard and unyielding metal and plastic interior surface of the vehicle.

For example, a vehicle would undoubtedly sustain major damage if it crashed into a concrete abutment, but it would sustain substantially less damage less if it hit a wooden fence. In the same manner, a driver may be hurt severely in a human collision against a dashboard (even a padded dashboard), but he or she might remain relatively unharmed in a human collision against a nylon seat belt.

So what's your choice? By choosing not to wear a seatbelt, you may find yourself dealing with myriad injuries and possibly facing death. By wearing your seatbelt or harness, you drastically reduce your chance of injuries should you be involved in a vehicle accident or collision.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration gives the following information: research has shown that lap/shoulder belts, when used properly, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent. For light truck occupants, safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 60 percent and moderate-to-critical injury by 65 percent.

A seatbelt isn't the ultimate cure-all when it comes to vehicle accidents, but it's use can have a profound effect on any driver or passengers involved.

As the United States Air Forces in Europe safety slogan says, "It's your life, your choice ... choice wisely."