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Whiplash 2: Rear End Collisions

Over the next several weeks, we will post a total of 10 short articles about whiplash injuries from auto collisions, a poorly understood but all too common injury. Our firm handles many such cases and is committed to informing you so you can protect yourself and your family.

2.) Rear End Collisions

Rear end impacts account for 40% of auto collisions, but they cause almost 70% of all auto collision injuries. Most of the people we represent are hurt in such accidents. Indeed statistics show that people struck from the rear suffer neck injuries 50% of the time. Thankfully only about half of them will suffer chronic pain. Currently 9% of our population suffers neck pain from a rear end collision.

Often, victims of rear end collisions are taken unaware by the collision, causing the neck to be totally unprepared for violent snapping motion. The head weighs about as much as a bowling ball and the neck is a thin, flexible, anatomically very complex structure. Rapid acceleration or deceleration of the body creates huge leverage forces between it and the head - causing serious injury to the neck. Ironically collisions at less than 10 miles per hour accentuate this "whiplash" effect.

80% of rear end collisions are caused by driver inattention and most occur on straight roads with no other risk factors. In half of all rear end collisions the at fault driver was NOT slowing down at impact. Many people think energy absorbing bumpers prevent injuries. Unfortunately, these bumpers are designed to reduce property damage, not injuries. They delay the impact a bit, but transfer it nonetheless. The suddenness of the impact and acceleration of the body can cause injury despite relatively slow speeds.

Formal testing has shown that in collisions at 8 MPH, G forces on the head may reach 17 G's. That means that in such a collision a head weighing 10 lbs would have an effective weight of 170 lbs. No one's neck can support such forces without injury.

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