When we picture a car accident in our minds, we often imagine the front of our car hitting an object or another car hitting our vehicle head-on. This is only natural, since most people will imagine themselves behind the wheel in an accident.
For many years, car manufacturers made this assumption, too. Extra space in the front and rear of the car, called a crumple zone, was installed to absorb the crash force of another car. Unfortunately, designers left very little room on the sides of the vehicle,making side-impact car accidents more deadly for a vehicle’s passengers than a head-on collision.
Statistics on Virginia Side-Impact Accidents
A recent study done by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found some surprising statistics on Virginia side-impact crashes. For example:
- In 1993, one-third of all passenger fatalities were cause by severe right-angle (T-bone) crashes.
- Crashes involving 2-door cars were often more severe than the same impact to 4-door sedans.
- Female drivers are hit more often in side-impact crashes than male drivers.
- Unlike the driver, passengers in the backseat cannot take any evasive action from cars coming toward them.
- Younger drivers are more likely to be hit in t-bone accidents-and are more likely to be injured as a result.
As experienced Fairfax car accident attorneys, we’ve seen the damage these accidents can cause-and not just to the vehicles. Injuries to backseat riders are often severe in t-bone crashes, since these passengers are helpless if a car breaches the steel frame of the car.
Preventing a T-Bone Accident
What can you do to decrease your family’s risk of being injured in a Virginia t-bone accident?
- Check your manual. Many cars manufactured before 1994 have very little protection from side impact crashes. If you drive an older model, check your car’s instruction booklet for an outline of safety features. Does the car include side impact airbags? How much space is there between the outer door and the seat?
- Beware at intersections. Many side-impact crashes occur at intersections, when drivers have trouble avoiding cross traffic. The most common causes are drivers running a red light, not braking soon enough, or colliding with a vehicle while turning.
- Be a smart shopper. When buying a new car, pay attention to the safety features in the back seat as well as the front. Newer cars have modified designs to lessen side impact dangers, such as adding foam insulation to buffer a crash, and adding vertical pillars to stop a careening vehicle from slamming into the backseat passengers.