Types of car accidents

Car accidents exist in many forms. Not one accident is like the other, the point of impact can be all around the car, 360 degrees, at various speeds and with many various objects. However, the basics are always the same and it is important to know them in order to understand how a car seat will help protect your baby.

Always keep the following rule in the back of your mind: After impact everything inside the car, including the occupants, will immediately travel towards the point of impact.

Front impact

(semi-) Frontal collision are most common. The nose of the car gets in contact with another object, either another car travelling in the opposite direction or a still standing object. Upon impact everything and everybody inside the car will travel to the front.

A rear faced car seat provides the most effective protection for your little one in this situation. At the moment of impact your baby will actually move backwards, pressing the fragile baby body into the inside, cushioned car seat shell that is cocooned around your baby. The forces of the impact are distributed externally all along the hard outside shell of the car seat. 

Because your baby is securely strapped into the car seat, their underdeveloped bones, muscles and ligaments won’t be subject to internal stretching and/or tearing. (more about the anatomy of babies in a later blog)

Rear impact

Rear-end collisions represent around 30% of all crashes. While this is a lot, they only account for less than 5% of all serious and fatal crashes.

Car accidents with serious injuries percentage wise

When a car is hit from behind, all occupants will shift backwards, being pushed into their own seat. This is far less straining on the human body because the car seat itself absorbs a lot of the force.

When your little one is strapped into a rearward facing car seat, it actually means that he will move in a forward direction. While this undoubtedly is less effective, the baby will still have better protection around him in comparison to not being strapped in a car seat at all.

The forces in a rear impact collision are less significant compared to the forces in a frontal impact, because the vehicles are travelling in the same direction and have room to roll forward. In a frontal impact, the forces are much greater because the vehicle will come to a complete stop very abruptly.

Rear-end crashes are more common in cities, high density areas and in stop-and-go traffic (traffic jams). This are low-speed situations that don’t cause severe injury. In the 5% of severe rear impact crashes that a rear-facing child could be in, they have at least the same amount of protection that a forward-facing child would have in a frontal impact. It is therefore that we still would always recommend rearward facing for as long as possible.

Side impact

Impact from the side of the car is very dangerous in itself because the impact happens very close to the passenger, if sat at that side of the impact. This means that any form of extra protection in that situation is very welcome. Car seats are specifically designed to provide this kind of protection, with special features such as SICT (Side Impact Cushion Technology) that you’ll find on our Britax Evolva 1-2-3 SL SICT.

3 crashes in 1

Aside from the actual crash between the car and another object, there are two more crashes happening during the impact. All three are summarized below:

  1. The vehicle crash –  The vehicle hits another object and comes to a complete stop. The forces of the crash are absorbed by both objects that are involved in the crash.
  2. The human crash – When the vehicle comes to a stop, everything inside the car keeps moving at the car’s original speed to the point of impact. The occupants as well. They will  come to the same sudden stop when they hit something. For passengers that will be the seat belt, air bag or car seat.
  3. The internal crash – When the occupant’s body comes to a complete stop, the internal organs are still moving forward. They also need to hit the inside of the body first before coming to their stop. This internal collision is the cause for many serious or even fatal injuries.  

In order to minimize the physical damage after crash 2 and 3, it’s absolutely vital to strap all occupants in correctly when driving. Adults wear seat belts, young children sit in car seats. Minimal movement leads to minimal collision and minimal damage.

The weight of the moving object multiplied by the speed it’s travelling at is the restraining force that is required to keep a person in place and prevent it from hitting other objects in the car. Let’s say your child weighs 15 kg and you are travelling at 30 km/hr. Then a force of 15 x 30 = 450 kg is needed to prevent your child from flying through the car. This 450 kg force will be exerted through seat belts and 5-point harness of the car seat. More about this in our next blog!

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