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Crumple Zone Technology

The cars of the 1950s and before are hardly recognizable to the automobiles of today for a variety of reasons. From a safety standpoint, modern cars are not even in the same league as cars even a few decades ago. Possibly one of the biggest changes in car safety, aside from the seatbelt, was the invention of the crumple zone at the front (and sometimes rear) of the vehicle. The crumple zone is responsible for absorbing the impact in a head-on collision and is also most likely to save the occupants’ lives in the case of such an accident. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 93 percent of all traffic accidents occur because of mistakes made by drivers. Luckily, while we may not be adequately suited to handle two-ton vehicles traveling at 70 miles per hour, we are somewhat aware of the fact and have created safety features such as the crumple zone to offset our driving errors.

Mercedes Benz Invented the Crumple Zone and Patented It In 1952

While the invention of a crumple zone implemented in cars was patented in 1952, it was not until later that they became standard practice in all vehicles. The physics behind the crumple zone are as such: all the objects within the vehicle are traveling at the same speed as the vehicle. Therefore, when the vehicle suddenly comes to a stop from 60 miles per hour to zero in less than a second, all of the occupants inside the car also undergo that incredibly devastating force. The crumple zone allows for much of that force to be dissipated and the deceleration of the passengers within the car to occur just a little more slowly, resulting in less force on them. Seatbelts and airbags also do this. Seatbelts are designed to stretch, which spreads the force exerted on the occupant’s body out over a slightly longer period of time, which is also what the airbags help do, in addition to protecting them from head and face injuries. Likewise, the seatbelt performs other duties as well, such as keeping the occupant in the car during impact and positioning them towards the airbag appropriately.

How Crumple Zone Technology Works in a Car Accident

Often, the damage to a vehicle’s front end appears to be horrific in comparison to how the occupants fared (assuming they were relatively uninjured). This is because crumple zones are designed to deteriorate in a crash. Instead of building the front ends of vehicles to withstand an impact, they are designed to do exactly what the name implies: to crumple and absorb the force. This is accomplished by creating a weaker outer body of the car, while preserving the strength of the inner cabin where the occupants sit. This allows for impact absorption while keeping the inner cabin from deforming and causing injury to the occupants. But not all collisions happen to the vehicle’s front end. According to the Washington Post, there are 1.7 million rear end accidents every year. After all, if one car rear-ends another, the front end crumple zone will only help the rear vehicle. To help reduce rear and side-impact collision injuries, some vehicles (particularly smaller cars) are being outfitted with rear and side crumple zones, too. Additionally, auto manufacturers have designed inner cabins that are essentially on rails, which allows even more force to be spread out through the extended time of sliding.

Don’t Go Through It Alone

If you have been involved in a car accident in the Central Ohio area, put the experience, compassion, and dedication of Ed Schottenstein to work for you! Contact Schottenstein Law Offices TODAY at (614) 467-8474 to schedule your complimentary consultation.