05 Nov How to Reduce Your Chances of Being Injured in a Crash
While it is statistically inevitable that nearly every driver will be involved in a serious crash sometime during their lifetime, there are steps that you can take to limit the possibility that a crash will also result in a serious injury.
While most accidents are avoidable, it is statistically inevitable that nearly every driver will be involved in a vehicle-related crash sometime during their lifetime. This is particularly the case if you’re driving in the United States. According to the International Transport Forum, a global transportation policy think tank, among 29 countries surveyed, the United States saw the largest percentage increase in road deaths from 2010 to 2016. In fact, the U.S. accounted for almost 50% of all road fatalities among this group of countries.
The prevalence of road deaths in the U.S. means it’s vital for drivers across the country to know how to keep themselves safe in their automobiles. And while being involved in a crash is almost inevitable, it’s not a foregone certainty that you’ll become one of the grim injury or fatality statistics. There are steps you can take to avoid being injured in a crash.
Preparing for the Worst
The best thing a driver can do to prepare for a potential accident is being prepared before you get behind the wheel and on the road. Keep the following in mind before hitting the road:
- Wear a seat belt. A seat belt is the most influential factor in surviving a car accident and minimizing injury. A seat belt eliminates the chance of ejection from your vehicle, shifts the force of a crash away from the most vulnerable parts of your body, keeps your body in the safest driving posture, and protects against head and spinal cord injuries. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), buckling up could reduce your risk of a fatal injury in an accident by at least 45%.
- Remove any potential flying objects. A 2012 study by Safety Research & Strategies, Inc. found that loose objects were responsible for 13,000 injuries per year. Store any loose objects in your vehicle’s glove compartment or in secured containers or backpacks. Pets should also wear secure harnesses to avoid being injured or harming passengers if they become airborne during a crash event.
- Have the proper tools in your vehicle. Seatbelt cutters, glass breakers, a secured fire extinguisher, a comprehensive first aid kit, and a cell phone are all items that could prove to be life-saving in the event of a car accident.
Proper Air Bag Safety
Frontal air bags saved the lives of almost 45,000 people from 1987 to 2015, according to NHTSA. They deploy in moderate to severe crashes and prevent injuries to the upper body and head.
But while air bags can be life-saving, they are only a supplemental safety measure to be used in addition to seatbelts, and improper use can actually cause greater injury. Air bags are deployed through an explosive charge, potentially causing burns from hot air. Also, because their primary purpose is to prevent the driver from hitting his or her head on the steering wheel or dashboard, air bags inflate quickly and firmly, and the impact can be similar to hitting a solid object.
To avoid air-bag-related injuries, avoid placing any items between yourself and the steering wheel, including food, drinks, cell phones, or GPS devices. Air-bag deployment could cause those items to injure your upper body or head.
Also when driving, place your arms on both sides of the steering wheel and do not cross them. Since the frontal air bag deploys from the steering wheel, crossing your arms could cause an injury to your arms, head or torso.
Driving a Safer Car
A major factor in crash safety is also the automobile you’re driving. Organizations, such as NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), have programs that test the safety features of vehicles and provide safety ratings for light-duty vehicles. These programs evaluate how these vehicles perform in the event of a crash, including head-on collisions and small overlap collisions.
Checking these programs will help determine whether your current vehicle will provide adequate protection in the event of an accident, and which vehicles are the safest based on NHTSA and IIHS testing if you are in the process of purchasing or leasing a new vehicle.
Planning ahead for the worst-case scenario is your best bet for staying safe and uninjured in the event of a crash.