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The impact of tensing up in a car accident

On Behalf of | Mar 29, 2023 | Motor Vehicle Accidents

From vehicle safety features to weather, pre-existing health conditions to car make and model, there are many factors that can impact the amount of damage done in a California motor vehicle accident. One of the factors that can make a difference is the reaction of those involved; specifically, whether they tense up or remain relaxed. With 77% of drivers reporting that they have experienced an accident at some point in their lives, the question of whether to brace for impact is highly relevant to many. Here is what the science says about tensing up when a car accident is imminent.

The research on tensing up versus relaxing

Many people have heard the advice that staying relaxed during a car accident leads to better health outcomes. However, a 2008 study by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine noted that upper extremities, such as the legs and chest, fared better in individuals who tensed up ahead of a car accident. Lower extremities, on the other hand, were injured more often in those who tensed up. While a broken leg is not ideal, researchers have suggested that preventing damage to vital areas such as the chest and spine is a higher priority. Therefore, it may be best to brace for impact to prevent more serious injuries.

What specific type of tensing up is best?

Bracing for impact is often an involuntary physical response one experiences when they see a crash approaching. However, in situations where one has a bit more time to think through their body positioning, there are a few specific things that can improve outcomes. First, it is advised that individuals push their heads against the headrest, always facing forward. Furthermore, it can protect the spine to push one’s back into the seat. Finally, hands should remain on either side of the steering wheel, with elbows and knees bent.

There are some particular movements that can be very dangerous during a motor vehicle accident. For example, when passengers put their feet up on the dashboard, they risk an airbag deploying and causing severe injury. Regardless of the position one is in when they are in a collision, serious injuries can unfortunately follow. It is therefore advisable to speak with a California personal injury lawyer following a car accident.