By Dr. Rick Morris
You’re stopped in traffic talking to a friend about that days crises, when out of your rear-view mirror, you spot a Seville preparing to redesign the back of your car. Quick, what should you do?
Lawrence Nordhoff, Jr., D.C., accident reconstructionist and author of two texts on vehicle collisions, makes the following suggestions for that split second just before you’re hit:
Quick...You're About To Be Hit--WHAT SHOULD YOU DO?
- “Tighten up and brace yourself holding on firmly to the nine o’clock and three o’clock position of the steering wheel.” While the ten and two o'clock position gives the best control when driving, the air bag, if released, can throw your arms into your face. Therefore, the nine and three position may be the safest overall. The idea of remaining loose and relaxed is wrong! Contracted muscles protect the bones, discs, ligaments and nerves
- “Keep your wrists straight, not bent,” to prevent wrist injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome.
- “Face forward, look straight ahead and sit squarely against the back of your seat.” Never allow passengers to bend forward in airbag-equipped cars. If you are about to be rear-ended, press your head firmly against the headrest.
According to Dr. Nordhoff, the average person will be in a car collision once every ten years. Practice these four points upon entering your car will make them “instinctual” when the situation arises. Before the “big day” there are a few things to keep in mind.
What You Need To Do Now To Protect Yourself From Injury
- “When stopped, keep an eye on your rear view mirror.” You have a better chance of not being injured if you’re aware of the oncoming collision.
- Size counts! Gas economy is great for our environment, but is going to lose in a car-to-car match up. The heavier car will inflict the most damage and be the most protective.
- Sit at least 6” from the steering wheel to avoid serious injury caused by the airbag crushing into your chest. If you’re too short, get pedal extenders.
- The headrest must contact the area just above your ears. When your car is rear-ended, you’ll slide upward against the back of your seat. Most are set too low and act as a karate chop to the back of your neck when you’re struck from behind.
- Never place the shoulder harness behind your back. This puts the stress on the lap belt causing spinal cord injuries. If you’re large breasted, use a shoulder strap cushion such as lambs wool.
- Put a cushion on the glass in old pick-up trucks whose rear window acts as the head restraint.
- Change seatbelts every 10 years and after major car accidents.
- Service and check the ABS (antilock braking system) every time you change your pads (must be requested).
- Do not pump your ABS! This can cause your car to flip over. Just hold the brakes to the floor. It will naturally grab, grind and feel jerky but it is supposed to do this. Practice the feel of abrupt braking in a vacant lot.
- Carry high “med pay” coverage (minimum $25,000). It’s fairly inexpensive and will free you from having to sue your insurance company to have your treatment covered.
Accidents are nearly inevitable so share this information. It may lead to a more “pleasant” accident experience.
Once You've Been Hit, What Should You Do?
When you’re in a collision, ALWAYS have yourself evaluated by a doctor that will check for brain and neck injury. Their symptoms may take months to show up. Your alignment and range of movement should be evaluated within the first week and watched for at least a month before closing your case with your insurance company.
Long-term effects of the spine being misaligned or hyper- or hypomobile from an accident may take years to show up. Often the degenerative changes are not visible on x-rays for many years.
Our spine center is unsurpassed in checking and correcting the short and long term effects from injuries. You are always welcome here for a first or second opinion and treatment.