Road and Track ran an interesting story where they sent one of their writers to Las Vegas to volunteer to be a crash test dummy. After trying to arrange a crash test conducted by auto manufacturers and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), who rejected their request based on ethical grounds, they finally found a group called the Collision Safety Institute (CSI). The CSI does their own independent crash tests to measure certain parameters for insurance purposes and law enforcement.
The writer, John Krewson, is seen in this video:
That is a crash between a 2007 Crown Victoria taxi and a Subaru WRX STI. The Crown Vic was going 40 mph at the point of impact, and the Subaru’s force sensor measured 100g’s of force at the a-pillar. Even with all of this force, the author was left with only aches and pains over the next couple of weeks.
Pretty crazy to put yourself through that, but there are a couple of things that make this different than a car crash that you might have been in. For starters, these guys had mouth guards in, and they were definitely braced for impact. Many of my patients who I see in the clinic are not braced for the collision. When you are caught unaware, you have less muscle strain, and more ligament sprain. Ligament sprains take a much longer time to heal.
Second, these guys are doing the hitting; they aren’t the “target” vehicle. When you are being hit, you have a lot less deceleration or acceleration time to cushion you from the blow. As the article points out, the G-force on the Subaru was 100g’s! That would be pretty concussive, if not fatal. When you are rear-ended, it’s not as bad as you have more crumple zone in the rear of your car, but it still affects the facet joints in the back of your spine, and it will still likely catch you off guard. Also, in a rear-ender, you don’t have a lot of space between your body and the car’s seat. Some car seats break away to absorb impact, other’s don’t.
This reminds me of other experiments done where there were some insurance adjustors who volunteered to be in a low impact, rear-end collision. When they were asked if any part of their body hit the back of the head restraint, or if their head whipped forward, they said “no”. But, when they rolled the video, they were shocked to see how much their heads pitched back and forth in slow motion.
Thankfully, cars are getting a lot safer. The Road and Track article says that we are essentially living in an era of Peak Safety. All cars sold today are safe. You’ll have a very hard time going to a car dealership and finding an unsafe car nowadays.
Source Road and Track I Was a Human Crash-Test Dummy
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