Vehicles manufactured today contain more safety features and injury prevention measures than any ever produced. Front airbags, side airbags, and crumpling frames work to reduce the amount of impact a collision has on a driver or passenger’s body. Although these safety features help to reduce the amount of injuries and fatalities experienced in car accidents every year, they cannot prevent all casualties. While many accidents result in little to no injury whatsoever, there are some types of collisions that frequently result in injuries that not even the best protection can prevent.

During a motor vehicle collision, the steady movement of the vehicle is abruptly stopped, but the body of a driver continues to move forward. Depending on where the car is impacted, a human body will be affected in various ways, each with harmful consequences. If a body were left to continue without prevention of any safety measure during a frontal impact crash, it would slam into the wheel and dashboard of the car and quite possibly continue through the front windshield. As such, seatbelts stop the body from moving forward and front airbags cushion a person’s head and torso, instead of allowing them to impact the hard interior. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in a motor vehicle accident, according to data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Biomechanics Research.

In the event of a side impact collision, the human body is subjected to sudden force from the left or right side. When a vehicle smashes into the side where a person is located, he or she can be subjected to the full force of the speeding vehicle, with the brunt of the crash possibly impacting a person’s body directly. If the person is on the opposite side of the impact, they can be quickly jerked from side to side, slamming into the interior side of the vehicle and suffering various injuries to the head, neck, sides, hips, and knees.

Finally, a rear impact crash, while typically the least harmful of collisions, can still result in serious injuries. When a vehicle is impacted from behind, passengers can be quickly whipped forward and backward, resulting in whiplash and head injuries if passengers come in contact with anything in front of them, such as a steering wheel, dashboard, or seat. According to the NHTSA, neck injuries are the most common consequence of such crashes.

While safety features today are meant to protect against all forms of crashes, they still cannot fully prevent injuries from the most dangerous accidents, such as head-on collisions and big rig accidents. While these accidents happen much less frequently, they have a much higher fatality and injury rate than others.