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Crashes: How badly will you be hurt?

2014-01-24 11:11

AN ALL-TOO-COMMON OCCURENCE IN SA: Crashes and road deaths have become all too common on SA’s roads. Buckle up, obey the rules of the road and be vigilant of those around you. Image: SHUTTERSTOCK

Crashes are an all too common sad reality of driving on South Africans roads. Transport Minister Dipuo Peters reported that 1376 people were killed in December 2013. Peters also reported 1147 crashes during the holiday season.

What types of injuries might a paramedic expect to find at a crash scene? What if your vehicle is side-swiped at a shopping centre or another vehicles slams into yours from behind?

Arrive Alive approached experts from medical emergency company ER24 for information on injuries sustained during various types of crashes in SA.

Arrive Alive: What are the most common injuries from the following crash types?

Depending on whether a passenger was restrained in a vehicle, the most common injuries suffered would be to the head and face due to colliding with the windscreen, reports ER24. Neck injuries occur due to forward-and-back motion of whiplash, chest and abdominal trauma from colliding with the steering wheel and leg damage from hitting the dashboard.

Common injuries suffered from this type of collision would be trauma to the side of the body near the impact site. Paramedics can expect head injuries due striking the window, neck damage from whiplash, internal abdominal injuries and fractured arms, legs and/or pelvis due to the impact of a colliding vehicle.

According to ER24, injuries relating to this collision would not be severe. Minor injuries would be trauma to one side of the body, as well as damage to the neck.  Major injuries incurred would be as a result of  a secondary collision affect the side-swiped vehicle.

Rear-end collision
Injuries during a rear-end collision are mostly to the head and neck region. Injuries my include head and facial damage due to the head colliding with the windscreen, whiplash, chest and abdominal injuries from the steering wheel and finally leg damage from colliding with the dashboard.

Injuries incurred from a rollover can be severe. If unrestrained, passenger will suffer trauma to the entire body with the head and neck the most affected areas. There would also be damage to the chest and abdominal area with general trauma, such as fractures, on the lower parts of the body.

Are there specific injuries that are more gender or age specific? I.e. women, children, the elderly etc.

The elderly suffer greater injuries during collisions due to their bones not being as strong as younger generations. With children, especially infants, trauma suffered may be a great deal more, especially since their head and neck contributes to most of their weight.

Abdominal injuries as well as other internal injuries are very common as their skeletal systems are not fully developed and provides less protection.

How effective are vehicle safety features such as seatbelts and airbags in reducing the severity of these injuries?
Safety devices greatly decrease the severity of the injuries suffered in vehicle collisions. Various studies have shown that if used correctly, within the correct speed limits, devices such as seat belts and airbags,  will give occupants a greater chance of survival. If safety devices work correctly, injuries suffered are far less than when safety devices are not use.

Which injuries do you expect to find where seatbelts and airbags were fully operational?

The chances of a driver’s head colliding with the windscreen are diminished if he or she is wearing a safety belt and well as the airbag deploying in the event of a crash. The devices help to stop the driver’s chest colliding with the steering wheel. There may be some soft tissue injuries due to the seatbelt and airbags but these would most likely be minor.

What are the dangers of unrestrained passengers in a vehicle?
If passengers are unrestrained, injuries suffered are greatly increased as the various occupants act as projectiles and may injure other passengers.
Which injuries are usually caused by objects inside a vehicle?
Various objects may cause severe injuries if they are not properly fastened. For example, infants or children that are not in a car seat may be flung forward in the vehicle.  Children can become projectiles, injuring other occupants in the vehicle and suffering life-threatening injuries themselves. This includes animals in the vehicle.

Other objects, such as furniture, boxes, shopping and various object stored near the back windshield act as a projectile when the vehicle comes to a sudden stop. The injuries suffered from these objects can cause severe trauma and internal injuries.

Use the following check list for safe driving:
Adhere to speed limits
Obey the rules of the road.
Restrain all objects securely.
All occupants should use seatbelts.
Infants and children should be placed in appropriate child seats.

Also view:  

Crash scene safety
How do seatbelts save lives? The mechanics of seatbelts explained.
Rollover Crashes/Crash reconstruction and safer driving
Safe Driving at Intersections

Read more on:    er24  |  arrive alive  |  south africa  |  safety  |  crash

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