According to the latest information we have read from the Federal Highway Administration there are nearly 200,000,000 licensed drivers in the United States. This means nearly 70% of our population can legally drive. Of this driving population not all are good drivers which can explain why each year recently there has been over 7 million car accidents in the US. This article discusses the types of impacts that take place when motor vehicles collide and the injuries and insurance claims that can ensue.
The collision that usually causes the least amount of damage is called a low speed impact crash. A low impact crash is generally is defined as one that takes place at speeds under 10 miles per hour (mph). Insurance companies believe since these impacts are at such low speeds that damage should be very little. Insurance companies also would like to convince you that at such low speeds that bodily injury is not possible.
The insurance industry is interested in studying this type of accident due to the increased frequency of claims surfacing from the low impact incidents. They feel that it needs analysis since they see little damage is observed on the vehicles. The insurance companies seem to be forgetting how much a scratch in the bumper costs to fix and repaint or how a 10 mph incident car can whip forward the neck or jar the back.
A motor vehicle might be built to take a 5 or 10 mph crash your body's soft tissue is not. The neck and back are the areas usually most affected. The chest and ribs can also sustain injury. The motor vehicle can take the force of the collision but it needs to push the inertia somewhere and it that turns out to be the occupants a lot of the time. At first glance low impact accidents might seem to mean low injury or damage but it can be different if you look below the surface.
A second type of impact is a side impact. These collisions are exactly what the name suggests; one car collides with another from the side. These types of accidents are quite serious. Side impact collisions make up 21% of all fatal automobile accidents and 25% of all non-fatal automobile accidents. Side impact collisions cause the occupants head and body to be forced from side to side. If air bags are not part of the vehicle there is really nothing stopping the occupants from taking the full impact of the crash.
Frontal and rear collisions allow you some to have somewhat of a buffer zone. That buffer zone is the front section of your car with the front bumpers and the engine or the rear bumper and the trunk. If the oncoming vehicle collides squarely with the second car in the driver's or passenger's door the vehicle and person or persons inside must absorb the full force of the impact.
The government, insurance agencies and vehicle manufacturers have tested and researched side impacts collisions. The result of these tests was the development of side airbags. If they deploy properly they can save a life. Unfortunately side airbags are not standard on all cars yet but are becoming more prevalent.
Side airbags are a safety feature that might allow you an insurance discount. The discount comes from the belief in the car insurance industry that side airbags help reduce bodily injury to the vehicle's occupants. The side airbag is supposed to deploy and keep your head from hitting the side window or the A frame causing serious bodily injury or even being fatal.
Injuries from side impacts are most often head, neck, dislocations, chest, arms and legs. This is in addition to cuts, bruises and soft tissue damage. If a head injury has occurred there also might be headaches, dizziness, blurred vision and neurological issues. This is one reason the insurance industry would like to see more side airbags installed into vehicles. With a side impact collision the insurance company receiving the claim can be paying a lot of money out not just for totaled cars but also because of the bodily injury that has been sustained.
A third more serious type of impact is a result of a frontal collision. In frontal accidents the speed and weight of the vehicles can be a factor in what injuries are sustained by the vehicle's occupants. This is why crash test data is collected to see what the car industry can do to lower bodily injuries of those involved. The crash tests evaluate how well a vehicle's "crumple zone" worked. Also it is tested to see how well the airbags protect the driver and passenger.
Frontal impacts can be very scary for the occupants since they see the crash coming. When they see the crash coming this usually has them tense up and can result in worse injuries than if the occupants' bodies had remained limber. This also might explain why frontal impact crashes have the highest death rate of all highway traffic accidents. The front end of two cars colliding sends inertia back into both vehicles which can then be transferred to the occupants.
Frontal collisions cause injuries that are much more severe than those in a low impact accident. Injuries may involve many body parts or even fatal wounds. Some possible injuries are to the neck, back, chest, ribs, head, arm and legs. There are also the possibility of internal injuries, concussions and various cuts and abrasions. This is a lot of bodily injury for insurance companies to worry about. This is also why cars with extra safety features allow you a discount with your insurance company. That air bag deploying can cut your injuries in half and thus the insurance bodily injury payout is lessened.
Rollover crashes are also a type of impact accident. Most rollovers occur when a vehicle runs off a road and turns over on it sides or continues to flip over once. Rollover collisions might involve one vehicle or more. They are very serious crashes that result in a high number of fatalities.
For most cars the chance of a rollover in an accident is less than 10%. There are some vehicles, such as the Suzuki Swift, that due to their high center of gravity are more prone to roll over. The NHTSA's statistics show that approximately 60% of fatalities in sport utility vehicles and 40% of fatalities in pickups were involved in rollovers. The rate for passenger cars is around 22%, while it is 30% in minivans.
Injuries in a rollover accident can be quite serious. It is believed that the best way to prevent or limit rollover injuries is to use the seat belt and avoid aggressive or erratic driving. Taking a turn at a high rate of speed, over-correcting a swerve or leaving the even roadway are all conditions that can lead to a rollover. The injuries that arise from this type of impact depend on the severity of the roll, the amount of times the vehicle roll, the terrain on which the vehicle overturned and if the occupants can dislodge themselves from the vehicle without assistance.
The worst injuries will occur to a passenger that was not wearing a seat belt and was ejected from the vehicle. The injuries can be head, soft tissue, neck, chest, arms, legs, ribs and internal bleeding. One would be lucky to come out of a rollover accident with only cuts, scraps and bruising. Rollovers scare not only the occupants but the insurance industry as well. They know but the vehicle and bodily injury claims are certain to be very high.
The low impact collision, the side impact, the frontal impact, rear impact and rollover can be all serious accidents for the people involved. It can take as little as a 10 mph crash to cause continual neck or back pain. Different vehicles absorb energy in different ways. This explains why the insurance industry rates different cars at different rates.
With roughly 200 million licensed drivers in the US, and numerous unlicensed ones that operate vehicles on the roadways of the US, it is likely that you will be in some sort of motor vehicle accident at some point during your lifetime.
The safer the vehicle is, due to better safety features, the better your insurance company will feel about insuring you. As stated above all impact collisions can cause injuries and property damage that an insurance company will be paying for. More than one in four motor vehicle accidents result in bodily injury claims. Hopefully having the above knowledge on impacts will allow you to choose a vehicle with the best safety features available to keep yourself safe and insurance claims low.