Car crashes cause half of head injuries

Yesterday was World Head Injury Awareness Day which brings attention to head injuries that can significantly change a person’s life. Motor vehicle, bicycle or vehicle pedestrian accidents are responsible for the most head injuries – an astounding 50%.

According to the US National Library of Medicine, Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) due to traffic incidents are highest in Africa and Southeast Asia accounting for approximately 56%. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, expands on why more attention should be paid to this. “A recent article stated that TBI deaths are 32% higher than those due to tuberculosis, HIV/Aids and Malaria combined.

“Statistics like these should motivate road users to pay more attention to playing their part in reducing the tragedy and strain this causes families, organisations and the economy, respectively and minimise the often-preventable trauma of these crashes.”

How can motorists play their part in changing these shocking statistics though? “The first, most effective way to do this is to never stray from defensive driving. Research proves that defensive drivers are more alert and mindful of the situations around them.

“This allows awareness of scenarios where different types of collisions are more likely to occur and how to reduce one’s risk of being involved. These drivers naturally learn to anticipate hazards and are proactive in preventing accidents. Ultimately, defensive drivers are equipped to assess situations, anticipate hazards, and better respond to avoid a crash or reduce risks.”

Vehicle safety features are constantly upgraded to help drivers avoid crashes and provide physical protection to occupants. “The difficulty is vehicles with the best safety features have a correspondingly high price tag. Irrespective, careful consideration of safety needs to be put into purchases. Can you rather select a lower segment vehicle but the top of the range derivative with more safety features?

“When purchasing a vehicle, safety features should significantly impact your decision. Certain safety features are non-negotiable. These include airbags, three-point seatbelts for every seat in the car and headrests which may be mandatory in the front, but not the rear.”

Which safety features protect your head and neck?

  1. Seatbelts: unbelted passengers have more injuries to the rear outer portions of their brains than belted passengers. Seatbelts reduce the forward momentum and, consequently, the force with which your head snaps back. Seatbelt pretensioners further reduce this force.
  2. Airbags: front airbags protect the head from contacting hard structures in front of the driver and passenger. Side airbags protect occupants during side collisions or when foreign object, like a pole, enter the vehicle. During side collisions, these are the best protection against head injuries. Side curtain airbags, in particular, are the most effective at preventing head injuries.
  3. Active head restraints: a collision triggers this bringing the headrest forward automatically to decrease the distance between your head and the headrest. This prevents stretching of the neck vertebrae.
  4. Strengthened A-Pillars: the pillars in a vehicle provide support for the roof and windows. A-pillars that are strengthened further enhance safety and prevent the roof from collapsing in a rollover.

Naturally, much focus is placed on fatalities on the roads. “Yet, one should not underestimate the impact that injuries like TBIs have on almost every aspect of society. It has a lasting impact that every motorist should take heed of,” says Hebert.