Car accident injuries can range from minor scratches and bruises to severe head trauma and internal organ damage. Unfortunately, victims can suffer a wide range of injuries even when the cars were traveling at a low speed at the time of the collision.
Since car accidents happen so often, it’s important to know how you can lower your risk of sustaining serious injuries in the event of a crash. Protect yourself by following these safety tips:
Adjust the Car’s Seats
Before driving or riding in a vehicle for the first time, adjust the seat so it is right for your body. The first step is moving the seat as far away from the airbags as possible. If you are the passenger, this means moving the seat back as far as it can go without cramping the passengers in the back. If you are the driver, it’s okay to move the seat back, but make sure that you can still comfortably reach the pedals and steering wheel. After making these adjustments, move your body back and forth to double check that the seat has locked into its new position.
The back of the seat should also be adjusted so you can sit up straight. If you are laying back in the seat, the seat belts and airbags will not be as effective.
Finally, check the positioning of the headrest. The center of the headrest should touch the back of your head when you are sitting in the car seat. If it doesn’t, adjust the headrest before starting the car. If the headrest is positioned properly, it may prevent serious and painful injuries such as whiplash and head trauma.
Everyone knows that wearing a seat belt can drastically reduce their risk of suffering serious injuries in a car accident. But, it’s not just wearing the seat belt that matters. If the seat belt is not worn correctly, it will not be able to protect you in the event of a collision.
Before starting the engine, spend a few minutes checking the positioning of your seat belt. Fasten the seat belt across your body and tug on it gently to make sure it is locked in place. Pay close attention to the fit of the seat belt. Is it cutting into your skin and making you uncomfortable? If so, it is probably too tight. Can you easily fit two fingers between the seat belt and your body? If so, it is probably too loose. Make the necessary adjustments so the seat belt fits across your body perfectly. If the seat belt is twisted around in any areas, unbuckle it and straighten the belt before fastening it.
Now that the overall fit of the seat belt has been adjusted, it’s time to check the positioning of the lap belt. This part of the seat belt should sit low on the hips as opposed to across your stomach. The pelvic bone will absorb the impact of a collision if the seat belt is sitting across your hips, whereas your fragile internal organs will absorb it if the belt is across your stomach. Since the pelvic bone is much stronger than internal organs, it’s important for every passenger to check the positioning of their lap belts. This is especially important for pregnant women, who could seriously injure their unborn children by wearing their seat belts across their stomachs.
Then, move on to the shoulder belt. Avoid putting the shoulder part of the seat belt underneath your arm or behind your back. Instead, the shoulder belt should go over your shoulder and across your chest. With this positioning, the bones in your upper abdomen will absorb the impact in a collision so your internal organs are not affected. If the shoulder belt is not in the right position, adjust the seat belt’s anchor so you can reposition the shoulder belt.
Don’t be afraid to make these adjustments to your seat belt even if you are in someone else’s car. Remember, wearing a seat belt is not enough to protect you in a crash if you are not wearing it correctly.
Sit Up Straight
Your posture could also impact the severity of injuries you sustain in the event of an accident. To prevent serious injuries, both drivers and passengers should practice good posture when riding in a vehicle. Why? The vehicle’s safety features—the airbags and seat belts—are designed to protect people who are sitting up straight in their seats. If you are not in this position, the safety features become less effective. For example, the airbags are designed to make contact with the front passenger’s chest in a collision. If the front passenger has their feet on the dashboard, the airbags will make contact with the passenger’s legs, not their chest. Make it possible for the safety features to do their job by sitting up straight with your back flat against the back of the seat throughout the drive.
Reposition the Steering Wheel
If you’re planning on driving, take a few moments to adjust the positioning of the steering wheel before starting the engine. To determine if the steering wheel is in the wrong position, sit back in the driver’s seat and look at the steering wheel. Is it pointing at your chest or face? The steering wheel should be pointed directly at your chest. If it’s not, the airbag will not be as effective in the event of a collision. Make the necessary adjustments to protect yourself before hitting the road.
Even if you follow all of these tips, it’s possible that you could still be injured in a collision. If you have sustained injuries in a car accident, contact Carpenter, Zuckerman, & Rowley as soon as possible to discuss your case. Let our experienced personal injury attorneys handle the legal aspects of your car accident case so you can focus solely on recovering from your physical and emotional injuries.