Crash types and types of injuries in road crashes

Have you ever considered the type of injury you might sustain from a specific type of crash? What would be the first injuries a paramedic might expect to find when he arrives at a specific crash or even before arriving when the crash is described to him?

We decided to approach the experts from ER24 and gain more insights on typical injuries from different types of crashes.

 

What are the most common injuries from the following crash types?

Head-on Collisions – Depending on whether the person was restrained in the vehicle, the most common injuries suffered would be head and facial injuries due to the head colliding with the windscreen, neck injuries from the forward-and-back motion of whiplash, chest and abdominal injuries from the steering wheel and finally leg injuries from colliding with the dashboard.

T-bone / side on crashes – Common injuries suffered from this type of collision would be your trauma to whatever side of the body the vehicle collided with. One can expect head injuries from the head striking against the window, neck injuries from the whiplash, fractured arms, pelvis, internal abdominal injuries and fractured legs due to the side impact of the vehicle.

Side-swipe crashes – Injuries relating to this collision would not be severe. The main injuries that would result are where the side-swiped vehicle would be in a secondary collision due to being side swiped. The minor injuries could include minor trauma to the one side of the body, as well as some neck injury.

Rear-end collisions – Injuries found here would mostly be related to the head and neck region. Depending on if the patient is restrained, injuries my include head and facial injuries due to the head colliding with the windscreen, neck injuries from the forward-and-back motion of whiplash, chest and abdominal injuries from the steering wheel and finally leg injuries from colliding with the dashboard.

Rollover crashes – Injuries suffered from rollover could be very severe. If unrestrained, you would find severe trauma to the whole body, mostly around the head and neck region. There would also be damage on the chest and abdominal area with general trauma, such as fracture, on the lower parts of the body.

In which of these crash types would it be most dangerous for person without medical training to try and provide assistance?

In my opinion, the most dangerous for the general public to try and provide assistance to would be a vehicle that has rolled over. Not only because the injuries the patient has suffered would be severe, but also because of the safety aspect. If the vehicle in the collision is unstable, it may cause further injury to the members of the public giving assistance. In terms of the injuries to the patient, he or she would need to be extricated with various safety pieces of equipment and with great care, which the general public do not carry with them.

 

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

We find that the elderly suffer greater injuries in collision due to their bones not being as strong as the younger generations. With children, especially infants, the trauma they may suffer may be a great deal more, especially their head region as their head takes up most of their weight. Abdominal injuries as well as other internal injuries are very common as their skeletal systems are not fully developed, so it provides less protection.

How effective are vehicle safety features such as seatbelts and airbags in reducing the severity of these injuries?

The safety devices that are installed in the vehicles today are shown to greatly decrease the severity of the injuries suffered in vehicle collisions. Various studies have shown that if used correctly, within the correct speed limits, these various devices, such as safety belts and airbags, will give the occupant a greater chance of survival.

 

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

We find that, if the safety devices work correctly, the injuries suffered are far less than when the safety devices are not use. For example, the chances of the drivers head colliding with the windscreen are diminished if he or she is wearing a safety belt and well as the airbag deploying. This will also 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 do you usually find with regards to injury types where there are passengers in the vehicle as compared to single driver crashes?

We find, if the passengers are unrestrained, that the injuries suffered are greatly increased as the various occupants act as projectiles, which in high speed, may injure other passengers. If the passengers in the vehicle are restrained, the injuries they suffer would be considerably less.

 

Which injuries are usually caused by other 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. These children act as projectile, 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.

What do you recommend to drivers and passengers that might, even though it would not prevent a crash, assist in reducing the severity of injury?

There are various things that motorists can do to reduce the chances of having a motor vehicle collision as well as the injuries they suffer when a collision occurs. They include

  • Adhering to the speed limit at all times.
     
  • Adhering to the rules of the road.
     
  • Restraining all objects securely.
     
  • All of the occupants restraining themselves with the seatbelt.
     
  • Place infants and children in the appropriate child seats.

 

[A word of appreciation to Russel Meiring from ER24 for assistance in answering these questions]

 

Also view:

Accident/ Crash Scene Safety

How do Seatbelts Save Lives? The mechanics of seatbelts explained.

Rollover Crashes/ Crash Reconstruction and Safer Driving

Safe Driving at Intersections

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