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What Happens in a Head-On Collision?

Tuesday, April 04, 2017By Richard Alexander

A head-on collision can be one of the most devastating types of car crashes. However, after actually studying what happens during this type of crash, it’s actually the same effect that would occur if either vehicle hit a non-moving object. It’s tempting to assume that two cars hitting one another at 40 miles per hour (mph) makes the cars feel like they are colliding with a solid object at 80 mph. However, this isn't what happens, as Newton’s Third Law of Motion would explain.

Because the forces distributed by the cars in the above example are opposite, equal, and evenly distributed, each car only experiences a 40 mph impact instead of an 80 mph collision. In another example, if a car travelling at 80 mph hits a car going 20 mph, each would feel a 50 mph collision because the forces would be distributed evenly between the cars.

The Discovery Channel program, Mythbusters, tested this phenomenon. It had six cars that were used to stage three crashes. The first two cars collided with solid concrete barriers, and the last four collided in pairs at similar speeds as the first two cars.

Here are the results from the single-car crashes: The first car hit the concrete barrier at 50 mph, and was totaled. The second car hit the barrier at 100 mph, and was destroyed almost beyond recognition.

Something different happened in the two-car, head-on collisions. The Mythbusters caused Cars 3 and 4 to collide while each was moving at 50 mph. The damage was approximately the same as when the first test car collided with the barrier at 50 mph. Similarly, the damage from a head-on collision of Cars 5 and 6—each travelling at 100mph—had about the same results as the car crashing into the barrier at 100mph.

Despite the fact that head-on collisions aren’t twice as deadly as a normal collision, they are still extremely destructive. Even at slower speeds, head-on collisions can severely injure or even kill those involved. And when airbags do not deploy, these crashes are that much more deadly.

Given these circumstances, you can imagine the horrific result when the faulty GM switches malfunction and shut off the car. The driver can't steer or brake effectively, rendering the vehicle effectively powerless to avoid oncoming traffic and fixed objects. The final insult is that the airbags won’t deploy when the crash occurs.

This result is unacceptable. If you or a family member were affected by a car with a defective GM switch, contact us at the Alexander Law Group, LLP or call 888.777.1776. All calls are free and confidential.

While the results that we have obtained in other cases and our clients' testimonials do not guarantee, promise or predict the outcome of your case, we do promise to do our very best for you in your case.

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