FAQs About Crash Risks
Why do we use the term “crash” rather than “accident”?

Using the word “accident” implies that a collision happened for no apparent reason and could not have been prevented. Car crashes are 100% preventable, and should therefore never be called accidents. They are crashes, wrecks, collisions, fender benders, or incidents...but not accidents.

How long does it take to stop a car?

That question has variable answers, depending on the weight of the car, how fast you’re traveling, road condition, etc. The most important point for any driver to remember is that if you double your speed - say from 30 MPH to 60 MPH - your braking distance does not become twice as long, it becomes four times as far.

Is it safe to let a small child ride in my lap in a car?

No. The science behind that is: force = mass X acceleration. So, if you’re traveling with a 30 pound child in your lap (mass) at 60 MPH (acceleration), it would take 1800 pounds of force to hold on to that child if your car suddenly slammed into something. (1800 pounds is about as much as an adult cow weighs.) Small children should always be restrained in a properly installed car seat, and never allowed to ride in anyone’s lap.

If I’m in a crash and I verify that nobody is hurt, it’s OK to leave the scene of the crash, right?

Wrong. Leaving the scene of any crash before the police arrive (whether your fault or not, and whether or not anyone is hurt) will get you in even more trouble.

If my blood alcohol content (BAC) is less than .08%, I should be fine to drive, right?

In Mississippi, an adult is considered to be legally drunk at .08% BAC (Blood Alcohol Content). Each person’s body metabolizes alcohol differently. Your BAC depends on a number of factors - your weight, the number of drinks you’ve had, the alcohol content of the drink, your gender, and the amount and type of food in your stomach. For some people, it only takes a drink or two to push their BAC above legal limits. But even if you’re not “legally” drunk, any alcohol in your system can impair your judgment which could result in a wreck. Buzzed driving is drunk driving. If you’ve been drinking at all, it’s best to hand your keys to a designated sober driver.

I’m scared to wear my seat belt. What happens if my car goes into water or catches fire - how will I get out if my seat belt sticks?

If you crash so violently that your car catches fire or goes off a bridge and into water, and you are not wearing a seat belt, chances are your head is going straight to the dashboard, where you’ll probably be knocked unconscious. How will you get out of your burning or submerging car if you’re unconscious? Having your seat belt on will keep you upright in your seat and will help prevent you from getting knocked out. If you still worry that your seat belt will get stuck, you can purchase an emergency tool at most auto parts stores or big box store, such as this one. These emergency tools attach to your keychain and can be used to cut your seat belt or break your window glass.

Older cars were made of pure steel and are safer than newer cars in crashes, right?

Older vehicles had much more steel than the newer models, but that didn’t necessarily make them safer. Newer cars are manufactured with a multitude of innovative safety technologies - crumple zones being one of the most prominent. Need some proof? Check out this video that demonstrates the differences in vehicle damage and occupant injury in a 1959 Bel Air vs. 2009 Malibu frontal offset crash test.