Did you know that in a typical 8 mph car collision the occupants experience forces as great as 8 G’s in less than a quarter of a second according to Neurosurgeon.com. The astronauts in the Space Shuttle experience 3 G’s during launch and re-entry.
It seems like common sense to assume that in a low speed collision if there is no damage to the car it is unlikely there will be any damage to the occupants. We have heard stories of people faking or exaggerating injuries when they have been hit from behind because they merely want to get the insurance money. It seems a little too convenient that the person getting hit is usually the one claiming injury whereas the person doing the hitting has no injury. So if someone complains of an injury after a low speed collision they must be faking, or are they.
Let’s look at the physics of a low speed collision. The new bumpers are built to withstand at least a 5mph collision, which means they do not deform or break. So when one vehicle that weighs approximately 3000 pounds strikes a similar vehicle while going 8 mph and there is no damage to the bumper all of the energy of that collision goes into propelling the vehicle struck, forward very rapidly which means the occupant is subjected to those forces. This is similar to when one billiard ball hits another sending it careening down the table. Whereas if the crash was at a higher velocity causing metal to crush, some of the energy of the collision goes in to crushing the metal rather than being directed to the occupant. One study found that there were more injuries in collisions under 13mph and over 40mph rather than in the middle and it was due to the energy absorbed by the crushing metal.
So simple physics and studies have shown that people can and are injured in the low speed collisions without any damage to the car. And you can see that it actually increases the likelihood of injury to not have any metal damage. So what about those studies done with human volunteers in low velocity collisions that show they could not be injured.
There are several factors to take into consideration when determining the possibility of injury when someone is hit from behind. Were they aware of the crash before it happened, because being able to brace for an injury of this speed can make the difference between injury or not. Male or female, because research has shown that females especially smaller ones are more likely to be injured than a large muscular man because they have less muscle in their neck to protect them. Do they have pre-existing degenerative change in their spine that can be aggravated with the forces of the collision?
Consider a study using human volunteers in low speed collisions that comes to the collusion that there is no incidence of injury in collisions under 10mph. When we look at the study we find out that they used college football players that knew the crash was coming and were able to brace. Does that really simulate real world experiences?
How about a 72 year old woman with neck pain from a rear end vehicle collision that had her payments denied because the insurance funded accident reconstructionist stated that the forces she experienced were similar to “plopping down in a chair” or riding a rollercoaster. Let me ask you how many 72 year old women do you see on rollercoasters?
You can see how one person can walk away from this type of injury while another can sustain significant injuries. The person injured not only has to deal with injuries but the social stigma of claiming injury for something many see as trivial, but hopefully now you can see is quite real. If you or someone you know has been injured in this type of crash it is crucial that they are seen by a Doctor of Chiropractic that is experienced with these types of injuries.