Limit the Risk of Projectiles In Your Car
Be honest. Despite your best efforts, it can be hard to keep your car clean – especially when you have small children in tow. Inevitably you end up with books, toys, tissue boxes, diaper bags, etc. cluttering up the back seat. Unfortunately, any of these items could potentially become a projectile in the event of a crash.
A projectile is anything that might have the ability to come loose or move freely in the car in a crash, with the potential to strike the driver or other passengers. Other examples include mirrors placed on the seat back in front of a rear-facing child, pull-down window shades, tablet computers, sporting equipment and even booster seats.
There is a simple formula that we teach car seat technicians to help explain crash forces: weight x speed = force. I am not an engineer, and I’m certain there are more advanced calculations to truly calculate force, but this is a good, general estimate to help explain the severity of the situation.
As an example, if you have an older child that uses a booster seat, chances are you haven’t thought about fastening the booster seat into the vehicle with the seat belt when the child is not using it. Let’s say that seat weighs about 5 pounds. Even in a low-speed crash at 30 miles per hour, using the formula above as a guide, the unrestrained booster will now move towards the point of impact with approximately 150 pounds of force! Again, this is a rough estimate just to illustrate the point.
In our car, we keep a few books stored in the back pocket of the front seats and have a stuffed animal (or two) ready to entertain our three-year-old in his car seat. I also keep a small plastic box in the trunk of my car with anything extra we might need for him: a change of clothes, wipes, some extra toys, etc. The box is not accessible while I am driving, but that’s because I don’t want to be distracted from the road trying to fumble through it. Remember that it is always better to pull over to deal with a fussy child. My car is not exactly clean – I do have a three-year-old (we can talk about crumbs and snacks another time) however, the clutter has been reduced, so I am much less worried about projectiles.