The true dangers of side-impact collisions

Side-impact collisions, also known as side collisions or T-bone collisions, are dangerous accidents that take place when one vehicle hits the side of another head on. You know what they are: one vehicle is crushed in the front while the other takes the impact from the side.

What you might not know is that side crashes make up around a fourth of all passenger vehicle accidents involving a death in the United States. Why does a side-impact collision cause so much damage?

Can you protect yourself? Side air bags are a good start

The main reason these collisions are so damaging is because the vehicle doesn't have much protection on the sides and has less room in which to absorb the energy of the impact. With less material between the people inside the vehicle, the impact is more or less a direct hit that causes more serious injuries to those involved. Victims have less protection from the collision, since the vehicle does not have side crumple zones.

Today, many vehicles have side-impact protections in place to help prevent injuries that occur in T-bone accidents. For example, some vehicles have side airbags, which expand on impact and help prevent people from coming into contact with objects inside or outside the vehicle during the crash. The use of airbags also helps spread out the force of the impact across a person's entire body instead of having the impact hit only one spot.

Lower your risk by looking for a vehicle with a high safety rating 

Do airbags themselves offer enough protection to people involved in side collisions? No, which is why it's always a good idea to look into the structure and integrity of any vehicle you purchase. A vehicle with a strong, locking structure has a better chance of standing up to an impact than one that has many parts or weakened joints.

If you choose to drive a vehicle with a good rating, you can help lower the risk or severity of injuries should a crash occur. Someone in a vehicle that has acceptable safety ratings is 64 percent less likely than someone in a vehicle with a poor rating to suffer fatal injuries in an accident.

You can’t stop others from making careless decisions, but choosing a safe vehicle and being cautious can help you protect yourself.

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