If you are a passenger in a car involved in a T-Bone car crash, you have a 50 percent chance of sitting on the side of the vehicle hit by the oncoming car. If you are on the side closest to the impact, there are federal safety standards in place to specifically protect you. This does not mean you are safer being on this side.
An experienced T-Bone accident lawyer knows a side impact collision happens in a split-second and passengers can't get out of the way of the impact when a car hits from the side. Motorists need to do everything possible to prevent T-Bone accidents because even with safety regulations in place, there are thousands of injuries and deaths each year in these serious accidents.
Are Far-Side or Near-Side Passengers at Greater Risk in a T-Bone Accident?
Since 1997, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 214 has established requirements for car side panels and vehicle safety features in an effort to reduce the number of people killed in side impact crashes. These accidents, called T-Bone collisions for the shape the cars form, usually occur at intersections when one vehicle is hit in the side by another coming from a cross street.
Safety Standard No. 214 is aimed only at providing protections for passengers on the side of the vehicle hit by the car, according to Association for Advancement of Automotive Medicine. People on this side of the vehicle account for 57 percent of serious injuries sustained in side-impact accidents and account for 76 percent of passenger fatalities in side-impact accidents.
People sitting on the far side account for 24 percent of deaths and 43 percent of injuries. This is not insignificant: 17,000 people are killed or injured each year while sitting in the far side of a vehicle involved in a side impact or rollover accident, according to Virginia Tech.
Most people killed or hurt while sitting in the far side of a vehicle sustain injury because they strike the interior of the car on the other side, where the vehicle was hit. This causes head and chest injuries. A total of 21 percent of people injured or killed in a T-Bone crash while sitting on the far side of the vehicle sustained head injuries and 33 percent suffered an injury to the chest.
If those on a vehicle's far side were kept in place when the accident happens, a good portion of these injuries could be avoided. Different methods of ensuring safety have been proposed, including the use of side support airbags (which some cars have but which are optional), and modifying seat belt design so belts span both shoulders or are pre-tension belts.
Federal regulations and vehicle manufacturers should do more to evaluate approaches to protecting people on the far-side of a T-Bone accident so the overall death toll from side impact crashes can be significantly reduced.