According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 6.4 million car crashes occurred in 2017 alone. These accidents resulted in more than 2.7 million injuries and 34,247 deaths. Some of these severe accidents occurred at speeds of 40 mph or less.
When you are driving, traveling 40 mph may seem like an average speed. After all, driving 40 mph is not as slow as driving in a school zone and not nearly as fast as driving on a highway.
However, car crashes that occur at 40 mph are anything but average. In fact, they can result in serious and horrific injuries and even fatalities.
The hard truth of the matter is that the human body is not meant to be involved in any type of car accident – even ones that occur at low speeds. The average car is a steel cage of glass, metal, and hard molded plastics. As such, the very car you’re traveling in can become deadly in an accident.
What Factors Affect a Crash?
During a crash, the amount of damage your body suffers depends largely on many factors. The speed your car was traveling at the time of the impact is just one of those factors. In general, however, the faster your car is traveling, the higher the risk of suffering serious and life-threatening injuries.
Some of the factors that determine the severity of your car accident include, but are not limited to:
- What speed was your car traveling?
- What speed was the other car traveling?
- Did you hit an immovable object?
- Were you drunk or under the influence at the time of the crash?
- Did either driver apply the brakes?
- Were you wearing your seatbelt?
- How old is your car?
- What type of crash occurred? Rear-end? Side impact? Head-on collision?
Three Stages of a 40 mph Crash
A 40-mph crash can be broken down into three stages: vehicle impact, human impact, and internal damage.
During the vehicle impact stage, the car you’re driving collides with another vehicle or object. When this occurs, it begins to deform and decelerate, and the car will begin to absorb some of the energy from the crash. The energy that the car is unable to absorb is passed on to the driver and passengers in the vehicles.
During the human impact stage, the car occupants begin to move forward at the same speed and direction they were moving before the impact. They will continue this movement until something stops their movement, such as an airbag, seatbelt, or window. A vehicle traveling at speeds of 40 mph may come to a complete stop within just a fraction of a second.
During the internal damage stage, the body’s internal organs or delicate tissues suffer damage from the impact of the accident and the internal forces. Accidents that occur at 40 mph can cause irreparable damage to the brain, spinal cord, and delicate organs in the body.
What Happens During a 40 mph Crash?
An online car crash calculator allows you to see exactly what happens during a 40 mph crash. When traveling at 40 mph, your car will decelerate at a rate of 3,997 meters per second and take 4.5 milliseconds to stop completely.
If you weigh 180-pounds and are not wearing your seatbelt at the time of the crash, the accident would have an average impact force of 73,363 pounds-force. This equates to getting hit with a mass of 36.7 tons. This would be the equivalent of getting hit with a weight of 6 elephants. This crash is severe enough to cause life-threatening injury or death.
If you were wearing your seatbelt during the crash, the crash would only have an average impact force of 14,673 pounds-force, and it would feel like getting hit with a mass of just 7.33 tons. As you can see, wearing your seatbelt reduces the impact of the crash drastically.
Contact Our Experienced Washington D.C. Car Accident Lawyers
At Patrick Malone & Associates, our Washington D.C. car accident attorneys know just how serious car accidents can be – even when traveling at just 40 mph. No matter how your accident occurred, we treat you like you are our top priority – because you are. Contact our law firm by calling (202) 742-1500 or (888) 625-6635 or filling out our confidential contact form. We offer a free initial consultation for all injured accident victims and can help you choose the legal path that is best for you. Call today!