Flying Water Bottles and Sliding Floor Mats: How Unsecured Property Can Cause Harm in a Crash

Unsecured Property Can Cause Harm in an AccidentCar accidents are extremely common. While not all collisions are fatal, a considerable number result in medical injuries for one or more parties. For those who are involved in a car accident, there are many factors that can increase the odds of becoming injured.

Some of these are well-known to most of us: where you’re sitting in the car, whether or not you wear a seatbelt, and how fast you’re driving at the time of a collision can all influence your chances of sustaining medical injuries. But did you know that unsecured items in vehicles pose a significant threat as well? Safety Research and Strategies, a company which investigates accidents, told Good Morning America that ordinary, unsecured objects in cars and trucks are responsible for 13,000 injuries each year.

Everyday items can be hazardous in a car accident

Under ordinary circumstances, the travel mug of coffee in your cup holder or the can of beans in your shopping bag are pretty harmless. But in the event of a car accident, everyday items like these can become extremely hazardous, and even deadly. In 2019, Good Morning America covered a story about this very topic, interviewing Boy Scout dad George Clark of Wisconsin about his life-threatening brush with a child booster seat.

Clark, who was driving home from a Boy Scout Leader meeting, was going 50 miles per hour when another vehicle unexpectedly pulled out in front of him. The impact sent the untethered booster seat flying through the car, smashing into the side of Clark’s face and shattering his cheekbone and jaw. After extensive facial reconstruction surgery, Clark joked how “I probably look like the terminator” when passing through airport security.

Unfortunately, the last time anyone studied the data surrounding car accident injuries caused by flying objects was in 2012, which revealed the 13,000 injury-per-year statistic. This makes it difficult to know whether this issue is being addressed or improved in more recent times. But given today’s norm of supersized vehicles (with more cup holders and more headroom and legroom for items to be tossed) the chances are good there are more loose articles in your vehicle than ever before. This is compounded by the fact that American culture only seems to be becoming more fast-paced every year. With under-rested, overburdened families already short on time, it’s understandable why so many of us may neglect to regularly clean out our cars, or devote any thought to the necessity of securing loose items.

But going off of the data we do have, it is necessary to take the threat of flying objects into account. Consider another point that was touched on in the Good Morning America story, the predictable and straightforward world of physics: “At 55 miles per hour, a 20-pound object hits with 1,000 pounds of force -- so powerful that a suitcase can literally sever the arm of a crash test dummy.” It’s not difficult to imagine how even smaller items such as cell phones, mugs, and laptops can become powerful projectiles in the event of a high-speed collision.

So how can you protect yourself and your family from the threat of flying objects? Below are a few tips that may help to prevent object-related injuries:

  1. Store items in the trunk. If you or your passengers don’t need immediate access to an item, your safest bet is to store it in the trunk. This includes heavy items such as suitcases, coolers, and outdoor equipment, as well as shopping bags and laptop bags.
  2. Make use of detachable barriers. If your car’s trunk space is open to the seating area of the vehicle (as in most vans and SUVs), it’s a good idea to install a detachable net-type barrier to help catch flying objects in the event of a crash.
  3. Store small items in your vehicle’s closeable compartments. For any small items not stored in the trunk, keep them safely closed inside your car’s glove compartment or armrest, as opposed to open containers like cupholders.
  4. Strap down items that cannot be stored away. Most importantly, always buckle up child seats. For items that won’t fit in the trunk or cannot be stored in a closeable compartment, buckle them up too!
  5. Protect your pets. Failing to secure your animals can also become dangerous for you, your passengers and the animals themselves. Make sure to strap in your pets’ carriers every time you travel with them.

Car accident injuries happen every day, and can be attributed to a wide variety of causes. If you or someone you know has been injured in an accident, contact the experienced Maryland accident injury attorneys at Plaxen Adler Muncy today. Call our office or complete a contact form to schedule a free consultation at one of our multiple offices throughout the state of Maryland.