Your Back Seat Can Kill You, or How to Pack Safely


This is a brief video on the importance of packing objects securely in a vehicle. Most folks don’t think about this when driving, but the same forces that act on entire vehicles in collisions also act on all of the components within these vehicles. In other words, if you’re traveling at 55 mph, every object within your vehicle is also traveling at 55 mph right alongside you (otherwise they’d fall behind!). So if you’re in a frontal collision and slow to zero in less than a second, everything in your car that’s unrestrained will fly forward at 55 mph until stopped by something…like you or the other occupants of your vehicle. To prevent this, you want everything in your vehicle secured.

The link above begins with the story of Heather Storey, 25, who died in March 2009 in Surrey, British Columbia, when her car was struck by a tow truck as she was driving to work. Per police reports, the collision itself was survivable; what killed her was the impact of her laptop crashing into the back of her head and neck at the speed of the collision. Per her brother, she typically kept her laptop in her back seat, and because it was unsecured, it likely flew forward at 60 mph, per her mother.

A 5lb laptop traveling at 60 mph is equivalent to 815J of energy, or a little less than 4 fastballs hitting you at 100 mph each at the same time. Presuming one were hit in a vital area, such as in the back of the head or neck, this could certainly result in one’s death.

Take the time to pack things safely each time you enter a car.

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