T-bone accidents, also called side-impact collisions, are deadly. They’re responsible for just 1-in-10 car accidents but cause 1-in-5 vehicular fatalities. There are many reasons for this, including speed, vehicle design, and our desire to own larger vehicles. Let's look at the evidence to get a better understanding of what makes T-bone accidents so deadly.
Broken Frames, Broken Lives
Modern car design uses a concept called “the crumple zone.” This means that the front and back of the car, the areas most likely to be hit in an accident, are designed to absorb the most damage. A well-designed crumple zone prevents the car from folding in on itself and keeps passengers safe from a collapsing frame.
However, most cars have a critical design flaw. The sides of the vehicle absorb just 5% of the total incoming damage. This is especially dangerous for cars lacking side airbags. It means that in a side-impact collision, all that force and damage are transferred onto the car’s cabin and the passengers.
Bigger Cars, Bigger Problems
Remember that in any collision, the force imparted is equal to mass x acceleration. Over the past 30 years, Americans have moved toward larger cars, especially SUVs and minivans. At present, more than 40% of Americans drive an SUV-sized vehicle. As we see this size-creep in the auto industry, we must understand how it affects collisions.
Here’s an example:
A 5,000lb SUV moving at 40 MPH imparts about 41,000 newtons of force on impact.
A 2,900lb sedan moving at 40 MPH imparts 24,500 newtons of force on impact.
That difference in force has enormous sway over the amount of damage sustained and the survival rate of side-impact collisions. Even in this example, driving a sedan over an SUV can reduce the amount of physical force by 40%. That difference saves lives.
Better Designs, Better Lives
Reducing damages from a side-impact collision isn’t just a matter of driving smaller cars; it also has to do with better safety designs. Newer vehicles are improving their frames to resist more damage on the sides and adding side-airbag to protect passengers from sharp objects and incoming force.
These safety features can dramatically reduce the force impacted on passengers and may even be the difference between life and death.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a T-bone accident, we are here for you. If you’d like an experienced attorney from Pete Olson Law to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (877) 438-7383.