Some collisions in the past 24-hours have reportedly resulted in life-threatening injuries that should not be expected.
As an analyst under contract to Transport Canada I studied the mechanisms by which persons sustained their injuries in motor vehicle collisions for 10 years. I was exposed to the detailed injury data of those who sustained fatal or serious injuries. My duties included documentation of vehicle interiors via measurements and photographs and then matching the list of injuries to their sources. Additionally, collision severity was also documented through detailed measurements of the extent of vehicle crush. Through these studies I am able to detect when the reported severity of injuries do not match with the expected severity of a collision. In the past 24 hours several collisions have occurred that do not match what should be expected given the severity of the collisions visible in photographs accompanied in the reports of those collisions.
An example is the vehicle shown above in which an occupant reportedly sustained life-threatening injuries. The collision was investigated by Haldimand OPP and reportedly occurred on Kohler Road. Threats to the safety of vehicle occupants can come from several factors and some can include the frailty of the individual. Thus age or poor health are two factors than can change the survivability outcome of an injured party. However life-threatening injuries are commonly known and reported based on the specific injury. For example the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) has been a widely known coding scheme that defines what injuries should be reported as serious, severe and critical. The rationale why police would report certain injuries as “life threatening” has to be based on some acceptable logic that is compatible with traditional standards such as the AIS. Therefore one has to assume that these reports are, to some degree, accurate and not misleading. Assuming so, life-threatening injuries would not be expected in the type of damage exhibited by the vehicle shown in the above photo.
In older times when vehicle safety systems were not as advanced, the failure to wear a seat-belt, along with the non-existence of air bags meant that a driver could be unlucky enough to sustain life-threatening injuries in this type of collision. This is partly due to the fact that additional damage might exist on the underside of the vehicle that is not visible and could relate to an increase in the level of severity. However the pictured vehicle is of a modern vintage, undoubtedly equipped with a variety of air bags and other interior enhancements. There should be little reason to expect that life-threatening injuries should occur in this collision severity. However there is an exception.
Late air bag deployment and an out-of-position (OOP) occupant have been known to create increased levels of injury in collisions of a minor severity. This is another one of those issues that is suppressed from public knowledge. Again, the reasoning of many is that the public need not know of these problems as such bad publicity is damaging toward the reputation of a safety feature that has been successful in preventing injury and death in so many instances. And this is the suspected issue in several other collisions that have occurred in the past 24 hours.
Another collision was reported on the OPP Twitter account which occurred near Puslinch, north of Hamilton, Ontario, as shown in the photo below.
Once again, there could be damage along the underside of the vehicle which could increase the collision severity. In contrast, the hood of the vehicle is relatively undeformed, there is no displacement of the A-pillars and there is no evidence of structural intrusion into the occupant space. These facts suggest a lower collision severity.
A third example (no photos available) is a collision involving an SUV that rear-ended a Mississauga Transit bus on Bloor Street just after midnight today. The SUV was blocked from view by a tarp and the collision could be of higher severity than the other two mentioned above. Even so, it would appear that we are dealing with a “barrier impact”, a description that is well-known in the collision-safety research community. A “barrier impact” is one that is comparable to the standard tests of government agencies that accelerate a vehicle into an immovable barrier to study its performance for safety compliance testing. Barrier impacts have classic characteristics and vehicles are designed specifically to obtain a “pass” on such tests so that they receive government approval for distribution in the host country. Because of the large distance of crushable structure that is available in such barrier impacts a lot can be done to protect the occupant from harm. So when it is reported that a male sustained fatal injuries in this barrier impact the alarm bells should ring. A properly seat-belted occupant with the modern features of multiple bags and other advancements means that it becomes difficult to cause fatal injuries to an otherwise health occupant who is of average, adult age and size. So what happened?
These are just several examples of collisions where more information is needed to confirm that all is as it should be. Unexpected and unreasonable levels of injury should not be left to pass by without further attention, investigation and knowledge of the voting public.