Center for Health & Wellness

How to Minimize Injuries Before a Car Accident Happens

Most of us know the steps to take after getting into an accident like exchanging insurance information, taking photos of the scene and calling for help, if necessary. But what are we supposed to do in the seconds leading up to and during the accident? Here are some very important steps to take to minimize injuries to ourselves and our passengers.

First off, we need to de-clutter our car. Anything left sitting in the passenger compartment of our car can become a projectile object during an accident that increases the likelihood of injury. So anything that isn’t necessary to our commute should be stored safely in the trunk or secured away from the passenger compartment. This will also help reduce distractions while driving.

Now we need to properly adjust our headrests, seat backs and mirrors. The top of the headrest should be at the same height as the top of our heads and positioned close to the back of our heads to minimize whiplash. Our seat position should allow for 10 inches between the center of the steering wheel and our chest to prevent injury from the airbag. Both side mirrors and rear view mirror should be positioned to show our surroundings without having to move our head and body around to see them. IMG_0555

Wear a seatbelt! Research shows that wearing a seatbelt reduces the risk of fatal injury by up to 50% for the driver and front passenger and 75% for the rear passengers.

So now that we have taken all of the preliminary steps to reduce our risk of injury during an accident, what do we do when we look into our rear view mirror and see the car behind us not slowing down and nearing our car? If there is no way to safely get out of the way and impact is imminent, make sure to look straight forward with your back square against the seat. We want the force of the impact evenly distributed over the largest area possible.

IMG_0556Brace yourself. While keeping our wrists straight with a firm hold on the steering wheel, push hard against the seat back and headrest. We want as many muscles tense as possible to reduce muscle and ligament injury.

Brake. Push as hard as you can into the brake. This not only helps brace our body for impact but will stop our car from rolling forward into the car in front of us or into an intersection and causing a second collision.

In the unfortunate event that an accident does actually occur, take a deep breath and try to stay calm. Assess the situation, check for injuries and call for an ambulance when in doubt. If the accident is minor, try to move the cars to a safe place out of traffic. If the cars aren’t drivable, stay in the car and wait for help to arrive. Turn on the hazard lights or set out cones, if you have any, to warn other drivers to stay clear.

We should all visit our chiropractor as soon as we possibly can following any car accident, even one that we may think is minor. It can take days to weeks for symptoms to show up. Allowing the effects of whiplash to go untreated can induce long-term pain and dysfunction in our bodies. Getting regular treatment while recovering from any injury, especially whiplash, will not only help alleviate pain but make sure that the injured tissues are healing properly and restoring function to your body.

For any questions or concerns, please contact Cooper Chiropractic at 360-693-3030.  We are conveniently located in north downtown Vancouver, WA.