As Maryland auto and trucking accident attorneys, we can appreciate the implications of striking another vehicle or stationary object at any speed. While automobile safety technologies have made remarkable advances over the past several decades, there is only so much one can do to design a conventional passenger car to be safe and still be useful and attractive to buyers. Although fashion should never trump safety, in a free market this is still a consideration for manufacturers of cars and light trucks.
Drivers and passengers surely benefitted during those early years following the beginning of an industry-wide effort to include basic seatbelts in most motor vehicles, starting in the late ‘50s. With the advent of airbags in the 1980s, occupants involved in traffic collisions had additional protection on their side, though some people incorrectly took that opportunity to forego seatbelt use altogether, assuming that the airbags in their automobile were the only protection they needed. Nevertheless, with additional education on the concerted use of safety belts AND airbags, most people car fairly well protected from most mid- to low-speed roadway accidents.
That said, as speeds increase, such as when driving on the expressway, there are still no guarantees. Especially at speeds approaching 70mph or more, expecting to walk away from any serious high-speed collision with another car or a commercial truck is more of a wish than a certainty. Since the dawn of the automobile, the physics of car accidents has always been a great equalizer between those who respect and follow traffic laws and those who flout them. Push the limits of reasonable driving and one could end up in the hospital, or worse.
Hitting a solid and immovable object, such as a bridge abutment is a deadly event, and highway engineers try to accommodate such potentialities in their design of overpasses, toll plazas and other permanent structures throughout the interstate highway system. Then there are less static objects, like other cars, large trucks and relatively small motorcycles and pedestrians.
When a car hits another vehicle, the smaller and less massive of the two will likely receive the bulk of the damage, both to the vehicle itself and its passengers. Head-on crashes are typically the worst, while glancing blows can result in less energy being transferred to the driver and passengers of either vehicle. Hitting a motorcycle is likely to hurt or kill the relatively unprotected biker, while the car’s occupants may not be hurt at all or receive only minor injuries as a result of the wreck.
Finally, there are instances where a car hits a deer or other large animal in the roadway. These accidents, which can happen day or night, can lead to some serious injuries for the occupants of the auto, more so if the animal intrudes into the vehicle through the windshield. In any case, it’s best to use extreme caution when driving through areas known to have high concentrations of deer, cattle and other large animals.
This comes to mind as we recall a news article about a woman whose car struck a mule that had somehow ended up on Telegraph Rd. in Cecil County a couple of months back. According to news reports, the lady from Elkton, MD, was driving her Saturn around 2am on a Monday morning when she came upon the animal in her lane of the highway. Based on news articles, the driver apparently could not avoid hitting the large animal, with the force of the impact causing heavy front-end damage to the Saturn and resulting in the driver being airlifted to a nearby trauma center for treatment and observation.
According to police, 29-year-old Katie Kus was taken to University of Maryland’s Shock Trauma center following the accident. News reports noted that the woman left sometime the next day after doctors determined that there were no lingering health issues threatening the woman’s health. The mule, on the other hand, suffered fatal injuries and died at the crash site. The driver was found not to be at fault in connection with the mishap. Meanwhile, at the time of the reports, police had yet to establish how the mule got onto the highway in the first place.
Woman recovering after crash involving stray mule, CecilDaily.com, August 14, 2012