T-bone or side impact crashes are disproportionately deadly. The Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine reports one study of collisions revealed side-impact accidents accounted for 19 percent of accidents but 32 percent of fatalities.
Not only are T-bone accidents more likely to be fatal, but recent research also suggests these crash types are more likely than other car crashes to cause traumatic brain injury (TBI). TBI is one of the most serious injuries a person can face, as a brain injury can affect all areas of life.
T-Bone Accidents and Increased Brain Injury Risks
Research into side impact crashes and TBIs was conducted at University of Rochester and the study outcome was published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.
A sample of crashes was evaluated based on information obtained from NHTSA data. The crashes involved 5,483 vehicles carrying 6,780 occupants. Researchers focused on 1,115 people who were in vehicles where at least one party sustained serious injury.
The research revealed T-bone accidents were three-times as likely to cause traumatic brain injury as compared to head-on collisions or other types of accidents. When brain injuries did occur in side-impact accidents, the injuries were much more likely to be severe TBIs.
The risk of traumatic brain injury in a side impact crash is high enough researchers indicate hospital personnel should consider serious brain injury in all T-bone accident victims, even when no immediate symptoms are shown. This is especially true when the patient is a woman. Females were more likely than males to suffer TBIs in side impact collisions. Men generally have more neck strength, which helps to account for the disproportionate rate of TBIs in women after side-impact accidents.
Unfortunately, the high rate of TBIs is a big contributing reason why side-impact crashes have such a high death rate. Traumatic brain injury is the cause of death in anywhere from 51 to 74 percent of all side impact crashes, depending upon which data is reviewed. In multi-vehicle side impact crashes, traumatic brain injuries cause between 41 and 64 percent of fatal injuries.
Symptoms of TBIs to Watch for After Side Impact Accidents
If you have been involved in a side-impact collision watching for symptoms of TBI is important. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates symptoms to watch out for include:
- Memory and reasoning problems
- Ringing in the ears
- Problems with the senses of taste, touch, or smell
- Communications difficulties
- Difficulty understanding when someone is speaking to you
- Mood changes including depression and anxiety
- Sleeplessness or excessive fatigue
- Heightened anxiety
Traumatic brain injuries affect thinking, sensation, language, and emotion. Brain injuries can cause both immediate symptoms as well as lasting consequences that affect long-term health.
Prevention of side impact collisions could bring brain injury rates down. Drivers need to exercise caution at all times when operating vehicles with the goal of avoiding accidents, but should be especially careful to avoid side-impact collisions at intersections.
Motorists who become involved in side-impact collisions should be sure they are aware of elevated brain injury risks and should watch for symptoms to develop.