We may never have thought about it. However, carrying loose objects in the car can be dangerous in the event of an accident. Not only because it is a distraction to have things moving in the car while we are driving, but because they can become a real projectile in the event of a collision. It alerted the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT) last October.
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Proof that we are not very aware of this danger is that, according to one poll conducted by RACE and Goodyear, the 21.4% of people affirm that they carry their luggage inside the car, 5% use a roof rack and 2% use a trailer.
Experts don’t just talk about big luggage when it comes to ensuring safety when traveling. They also make it from very common objects that we do not usually pay attention to when we go by car and that we place in any way: mobiles, books, sunglasses, purses, water bottles, bags, etc.
Avoid the elephant effect
According to Newton’s first law of motion, “every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.” This law applies to everything inside a car in the event of an accident.
The problem is known as elephant effect. This tells us that, for example, when a passenger travels in the back seat and does not fasten the seat belt and braking occurs, the passenger hits forward with a force that is equivalent, depending on the weight and speed, to the weight of an elephant.
When the car comes to a sudden stop, unsecured objects and people keep moving until they hit something (window, dash, seat, etc.) that prevents them from moving further. The speeds of these “projectiles” are close to the speed of the car before impact.
For example, at a speed of 60 km / h, a passenger of about 75 kilos would hit the front seat with a force of about 4.2 tons. And is that, by inertia, any loose object inside a car not only continues forward but also multiply the force with which it hits anything it encounters on the road for up to forty times its weight just at 50 km / h.
Thus, small objects placed even on the rear tray of the car can become projectiles that can cause damage to people who travel inside. The DGT exemplifies it with everyday objects such as:
- An umbrella: if we start with a weight of about 950 grams, this object can come out of the rear tray and hit people in the car with a force equivalent to 38 kilos at a speed of 50 km / h.
- A suitcase: Even small ones, weighing about five kilos, can hit the driver with a force similar to that of a large object weighing about 150 kilos.
- School backpack: in case of collision it will weigh up to 40 times more than normal and will exert a pressure of 200 kilos, warns the Royal Automobile Club of Catalonia (RACC).
- A Mobile phone: it is not a very heavy object (about 150 grams) but if it is thrown in an accident, the elephant effect turns this small weight into a projectile with a force of approximately 1.5 kilos.
Loose objects in a car can cause other hazards. If one of these, even a small one, falls on the part of the driver, between the ground and the pedals, it can cause problems such as not being able to brake and even being distracted.
If we take our eyes off the road for even a second, driving at 100 km / h, we will have traveled almost 28 meters before we have been able to react in case we have to brake.
How to put luggage and objects in the car
Preventing any mishap in the car from happening to us for something that we can avoid is by following the following recommendations:
- Carry all objects, even small ones, in the trunk.
- The heaviest packages and the largest and most rigid suitcases should be placed in the bottom, closest to the rear seat. This will prevent them from building up momentum in a severe frontal collision and thus entering the passenger area. The rest of the luggage can be placed on top.
- It is advisable hold the load at the boot lashing points with nets.
- Fasten seat belts of the rear seats even if there is no one because they prevent the luggage from passing from the trunk to the seat.
- Use the areas of the car enabled to carry objects: glove boxes and storage spaces behind the front seat backs, including recesses in the armrests and doors, are ideal for transporting small items without risk.
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