View Full Version : Car wrecks, injuries, and tension, oh my!

10-12-2000, 09:35 AM
I have always heard (and never heard anyone disagree) that when there are serious car crashes, drivers/passengers who are either asleep or drunk tend not to get as badly injured as those who are awake and alert. This was explained because those people who are awake and alert will "tense up" right before the accident, while people who are asleep or drunk don't see it coming and therefore remain relaxed.

Some questions here.

1.) Is there any merit to this? Any studies, or hard evidence to support this idea? (Other than, "yeah, that's how I've heard it, too")

2.) If this is true, then why? What is it about being relaxed that causes you to get less injured?

Edward The Head
10-12-2000, 09:41 AM
When you're relaxed you flop around more and your body can go which ever way it wants. if you tence up you are trying to stop yourself it's just not gonna work. I hit a deer on a motorcycle once and walked away from it by NOT trying to stop myself. not like I could have anyway. as for studies I know of none, but they do say lots of times that drunk drivers don't get hurt as much even from the bad wrecks so that should say something.

10-12-2000, 02:40 PM
ok, example time

your about to get hit by another car -- you see it comming. Because you see it comming you tense up, making your arms and legs rigided in the car. Impact occurs, energy is transfered through the car to your body. Because your arms and legs are braced for impact, your radial/ulnar (forearm) and tibia and fibula (lower leg) are usually broken. In more extreme cases the Femur (upper leg) can often be broken.

Those who do not see the accident comming do not have the opperturnity to brace, therefor when the energy of the accident is transfered to them, they bounce around the car instead of absorbing the energy themselves.

Thats the way it was taught to me in paramedic school

10-12-2000, 09:26 PM
Yes, I can offer evidence both anectdotal and painfully first hand.
Anectdotal: My friend Ed is driving through what was then the new Vine Street Extension in Philly. He had a head on with a UPS Truck. He saw it coming, and had the time to brace his arms against the steering wheel, hands gripping the wheel, elbows locked.
He dislocated both arms out of their sockets, in addition to breaking them both. So....yes..if he'd been unaware of the incoming truck, he would not have suffered THOSE injuries. Others? Sure, probably, but those? Nope.

First hand. Three weeks ago today, I had a ladder slide out from under me, and I broke a vertibrae . My L-3 is forever ferschtummelled. However- as I was falling ( landed on my feet, broke my back anyway ) I was aware that I was twisting. I desperately tried to twist straight, and grab SOMETHING- I reached for my house wall. An irrational response, all I did was abrade my arm. But- I pulled muscles all along the left side of my neck- ONLY because I twisted in that direction and was still twisting as I hit the ground.

Third- Another first hand one. I stopped at the scene of an accident that had just occurred. There is a woman laying on her back, moaning. The car is in the ditch, facing the wrong way. It turns out that the woman on her back was asleep, laying down in the back seat of the car, and when the car spun and hit the guardrail, she was EJECTED THROUGH the back window. We at the scene agreed she was lucky not to have either lost the top of her skull, or her feet on the way out. She suffered no cuts from glass. If she hadn't been asleep....well. What would YOUR instinct be? She did have pelvic fractures due to her impact on the ground ( she was airborne 15-20 feet), and other injuries. Still...no damage due to an attempt to STOP herself from being ejected, since she was asleep.