Almost 10,000 occupant deaths occur each year in side impact crashes, and head injuries cause more than half of these deaths. Head injuries are the cause of death in 51-74 percent of single-vehicle side impacts and 41-64 percent of multiple-vehicle side impacts. Thirty-eight percent of single-vehicle side impact crash deaths occur when vehicles strike trees or poles on the dead occupants' side of the vehicle. In two-vehicle side impact crashes, 38 percent of car occupant deaths occur when a pickup or sport utility vehicle strikes the car.
Passenger vehicle occupant deaths in side impact crashes
|Side impact with fatal head injury
|Source: FARS (1999), NASS/CDS (1995-99)
Three fatal side impacts in which intruding vehicles hit the heads of people in struck vehicles:
This 1993 Pontiac Grand Am was struck by a 1972 GMC full-size pickup truck. The Grand Am's 29-year-old female driver died from massive injuries to her head, neck, chest, and abdomen. A 72-year-old passenger in the rear seat also was killed.
This 1991 Geo Storm was struck by a 1997 Ford pickup truck. The Storm's 23-year-old male driver was killed. His injuries included chest trauma plus fatal injuries when the hood of the intruding pickup struck his head.
This 1997 Plymouth Breeze was struck by a 1985 Chevrolet Blazer. The Breeze's 30-year-old female driver was killed. Her injuries included head trauma when the intruding Blazer's hood struck her head.