How Fast Can You Die?
A study from a research safety center shares what happens when a car traveling 55 miles an hour crashes into a solid immovable object (without a seat belt on):
1/10th of a second: The front bumper and chrome “frosting” of the grillwork collapse. Slivers of steel penetrate the object to a depth of 1 1/2 inches.
2/10ths of a second: The hood rises, crumples, smashes into the windshield. Spinning rear wheels leave the ground. The fenders come into contact with the object, forcing the rear parts out over the front doors. The driver's body continues to move forward at the vehicle's original speed. At 20 times the normal force of gravity his body weighs 3000 pounds. His legs ramrod straight and snap at the knee joints.
3/10ths of a second: The driver's body is now off the seat, torso upright, broken knees pressed against the dashboard. The plastic and steel frame of the steering wheel begins to bend under his terrible death grip. His head is now near the sun visor, his chest above the steering column.
4/10ths of a second: The car's front 24 inches have been demolished, but the rear end is still traveling about 35 miles per hour. The driver's body is still traveling 55 miles per hour. The half-ton motor block crunches into the object hit.
5/10ths of a second: The driver's fear-frozen hands bend the steering column into an almost vertical position. The force of gravity impales him on the steering shaft. Jagged steel punctures the driver's lungs and intercostal arteries. Blood spurts into his lungs.
6/10ths of a second: The driver's feet are ripped from his tightly laced shoes. The brake pedal shears off the floor boards. The chassis bends in the middle, shearing body bolts. The driver's head smashes into the windshield. The rear of the car begins its downward fall, spinning wheels digging into the ground.
7/10ths of a second: The entire writhing body of the car is forced out of shape. Hinges tear, doors spring open. In one last convulsion the seats ram forward pinning the driver against the cruel steel of the steering shaft. Blood leaps from his mouth; shock has frozen his heart. He is dead.
Total time elapsed: 7/10ths of a second!