A vastly underestimated injury risk to you in an auto accident lies not outside your car, but in it. Unsecured objects, lying around in a car without being tethered, anchored, or restrained properly, cause hundreds of injuries, and even fatalities every year as they become projectiles in a car accident.
It’s safe to say that you are not very concerned about that laptop case or your grocery bag sitting in the back seat. While motorists take great pains to avoid collisions with objects outside their vehicle – pedestrians, bicycles, motorcycles and other cars – very few of them are aware of the dangers posed by loose objects lying around inside the car. These objects don’t necessarily have to collide with you during an accident to cause serious damage. When you bring your car to a sudden stop, these objects turn into projectiles that can do serious damage.
Children may be at particular risk of traumatic injury during such accidents. In one study researchers found that more than 3,000 children were injured when they collided with loose objects inside a vehicle. Most of these injuries could have been avoided merely by trucking away loose objects, or storing them safely.
WHAT KIND OF OBJECTS IN A CAR SHOULD ABSOLUTELY NOT BE LEFT LOOSE?
Any loose object in a car can turn into a projectile in the event of a car accident, or pose serious risk of injury during a rollover. Such items include:
- water bottles
- grocery bags
- school lunch bags
It’s not just the risk of injury that is caused when an unsecured object comes into contact with you during an accident or when the vehicle suddenly stops that you should be concerned about. Unsecured objects lying around the car, like newspapers or documents, can also distract you when they fly about the car, increasing your risk of being involved in an accident. Small objects can actually roll under the seats and become dislodged under the brake pedal. Pick up drivers are often guilty of having toolboxes, tools, construction materials and other hardware lying around in the vehicle.
Pets also fall into the “unsecured” category. Far too many people allow dogs to ride in their cars, without using restraints. These animals are a serious source of distraction, and a much neglected safety hazard.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO AVOID INJURIES FROM UNSECURED OBJECTS IN YOUR CAR?
Just as you, hopefully, take care to switch off your cell phone while driving, make sure that all items in your car. That’s what the truck is for, and the risk of objects flying from the truck and hitting you when you brake suddenly, is minimal.
Use anchors or tethers to secure loose objects in your car. Booster seats are a major projectile hazard. The seat is not designed to be affixed to the car, but you can buckle it in with a seatbelt, just as you would if a child were using it, to secure it.
Get into the habit of keeping sunglasses, and other essentials in the console, instead of leaving them lying around in the seat.
Restrain pets using a pet carrier, or even doggy seat belts. Make sure that carriers are tied down as well. If the car doesn’t allow for a pet crate, use a doggie seat belt.
Don’t underestimate the dangers of having unsecured objects in the car. In many cases, people understand these dangers, but leave loose objects lying around because they want the objects easily accessible, or because they don’t want to open the trunk just to place a bag of groceries inside. Such actions may be convenient, but deadly.