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Crumple zones, kinetic energy and reducing serious injuries

Low-speed, rear-end collisions are common in the U.S., and they can cause some surprisingly serious injuries, especially those involving the head, such as concussion and traumatic brain injury.

Car designers continually work to improve safety for passengers. One way to do that is to create better crumple zones to absorb kinetic energy in a crash.

The crumple zone defined

Crumple zones are proven to be among the most effective safety innovations in automobile design. These zones are specific parts of a vehicle that are designed to deform in a car crash so as to absorb some of the kinetic energy produced by the crash and keep it from affecting the occupants. In other words, there are two goals: First, the crumple zone reduces the force of the impact, and second, it redistributes the force before it reaches the people in the vehicle.

TBI from a rear-end collision

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, some two million people suffer traumatic brain injuries annually in our country. About 286,000 of these injuries are the result of vehicle crashes. TBI takes two forms: open, in which a foreign object penetrates the skull and enters the brain; and closed, in which the brain continues to move upon impact and can collide with the inside of the skull. Since symptoms such as headaches, confusion or fatigue may not be present at the time of a crash, many victims may not be aware that they have a serious head injury for several days. This is why a personal injury attorney will always recommend that a victim seek immediate medical attention following even a minor rear-end collision.

The work continues

Whether it is bending metal or shattering glass, every action that occurs during a car crash requires energy, which is where the crumple zone comes in. The designs vary from one auto manufacturer to another and constitute proprietary information. However, the objectives are always the same: to distribute the kinetic energy in a crash and keep it from causing serious head, spine and other injuries to everyone inside the vehicle.

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