Side-impact crashes – commonly referred to as “T-bone” collisions – are among the most dangerous of car accidents for occupants of the vehicle being T-boned. A T-bone accident is one in which one vehicle strikes another straight into the second vehicle’s side at a perpendicular angle, hence the popular nickname. The car being struck in the side forms the cross of the “T,” while the striking vehicle forms the stem. T-bone accidents frequently are the result of one vehicle or the other running a stop sign or running the red light at a traffic signal. No matter how they occur, side-impact crashes can have devastating consequences for the occupants of the car on the receiving end of the side impact.
Side-Impact Collisions are Especially Dangerous
According to federal statistics, more than half of all traffic deaths from accidents involving passenger vehicles result from head-on collisions. That makes sense given the impact speeds involved in head-on crashes. Much more surprising, though, is that a quarter of all traffic fatalities occur in side-impact crashes – or T-bone accidents. Unfortunately, the lethality of side-impact collisions also makes sense. Many cars still on the road do not have side airbags, and a car hit from the side does not enjoy the protection of the front-end automobile architecture that has reduced the lethality of head-on collisions. There is no crumple zone on the side of a car. Side airbags were introduced in the late 1980s and early 1990s by Chrysler and Volvo on some models, and have become common in all passenger vehicles since the early 2000s, but they are not mandated by the government except for front-seat side air bags.
Injuries in T-Bone Accidents Often are Quite Severe
While side-impact collisions account for up to 27% of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. each year, they also frequently result in pretty serious injuries, particularly to occupants on the side of the vehicle that is stricken by the other vehicle. Because the T-boned vehicle gets hit in the side, where there is considerably less protection for the occupants of the vehicle, side-impact crashes tend to deliver crushing forces upon the occupants. And because side-impact crashes most frequently occur at intersections because one of the vehicles did not obey a stop sign, failed to stop for a red light, or failed to yield the right of way, the vehicle delivering the side blow often is traveling at a pretty good pace. The impact frequently yields devastating results. Among the more common injuries in side-impact accidents include:
- Broken bones
- Traumatic brain injuries or other head injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, which often result in paralysis
- Severe lacerations
- Internal injuries
T-bone collisions can shove the vehicle hit in the side into the path of oncoming traffic, often compounding the damage and the injuries suffered. If back-seat passengers are not wearing seat belts – and they often do not, even in these times when front-seat passengers usually do buckle up – they can be ejected from the vehicle. Ejected passengers are unguided missiles, and the injuries they suffer as a result of the ejection often are worse than any they suffered while in the vehicle, including death.