There are many safety features in cars that protect the occupants from the forces of impact during an accident such as crumple zones that place distance and structural steel between the occupants and the impact point. Other safety features include energy absorbing bumpers, seat belts, airbags, and headrests. However, these only protect against frontal and rear end collisions and are of little help (except for side airbags) during a side impact crash.
There is little more than a door and window and a few inches of separation between the occupant and the colliding car. The shoulder belt and headrest do little to restrain a person’s upper body from lateral motion. The front airbags, if they deploy, provide no protection either. In short, today’s car design leaves the driver and passengers highly vulnerable to injury in this type of accident.
In addition to car design shortcomings, the driver is often unaware of an impending side impact because she or he is primarily focused on what is happening in front. This means the driver does not get the chance to mitigate the consequences of an impact by braking or making an evasive maneuver.
The relative lack of protection and being caught off guard means that the victim’s injuries can be severe with lengthy and expensive recovery periods. If this is your situation, you should get the help of experienced Chattanooga car accident attorneys.
Factors Influencing the Severity of Side Impact Collisions
The severity of injuries and likelihood of fatalities depend on factors such as:
- The speed of the impacting vehicle
- The size and weight differences between vehicles
- The model and make of the vehicles
- The side impact safety features present
How Side Impact Collisions Happen
The side impact crash typically occurs at three-way and four-way intersections, traffic merging situations, and in road sections in front of driveways and parking lots. Accident scenarios include cars running red lights and stop signs, failure to yield, illegal right turn on a red light, and mechanical failure such as faulty brakes. The drivers at fault may be distracted, intoxicated, fatigued, emotionally distraught, or driving aggressively.