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How have advances in technology affected the safety of vehicles?

Unit Questions
What forces act on a car and on the body during a car crash? What are some causes of vehicle crashes?

What are 3 types of collisions that occur during a car crash?

How can vehicles be made safer? What can you do to be safe in a vehicle?

Car Crash Physics

By Lisa Atwell

Forces acting on your car and body in a car crash Physics of moving objects Newtons Laws of Motion 3 types of collisions that occur during a car crash Causes of car crashes Vehicle safety

The Physics of Moving Objects

Is how much matter is in something.

The more you stuff in your suitcase, the more massive it becomes.

Is how fast something is traveling.

Near your school, your mother presses on the gas pedal to make the car go 15 mph (miles per hour) On Interstate 82, your father presses on the gas pedal to make the car go 70 mph.

Direction is not important !


distance time

Is how fast something is going and in which direction.



in a


55 mph south


the change in
When a car accelerates, it may be speeding up or slowing down.

Mass is the amount of matter in something. Speed is how fast something is traveling. Velocity is how fast something is traveling in a direction. Acceleration is a change in speed.

Experiment #1

Velocity or Acceleration?

Newtons 2nd Law of Motion

F = ma
Force equals mass times acceleration is a push or a pull.
This law means that while you are applying a force on an object, it will continue to accelerate or change its velocity. It also states that the greater the force on an object, the greater the acceleration.

Do you know the word that describes a

in motion ?

Here is a clue:
The Starkville Academy running back is running toward the goal.
The Heritage linebacker grabs his legs one yard from the goal line.
The running back cant move his legs, but still scores for SA and wins the game!

The announcer says the players

carried him over the goal line.


in motion !
Momentum = mass x velocity
All objects have mass. If an object is moving, it has momentum.

and its relationship to mass and speed

Suppose the 150 lb Starkville Academy running back has a speed of 10 mph going east. Suppose the 100 lb Heritage Academy line backer has a speed of 10 mph going west.


They collide head on at the goal line. What are the results ?

Momentum = mass x velocity

The Starkville Academy player has a mass of 150 lb and is running 10 mph toward the east.

His momentum is 1500 lb mph east

The Heritage Academy player has a mass of 100 lb and is running 10 mph toward the east.

His momentum is 1000 lb mph west

The result is a final momentum of 500 lb mph east (towards the goal line).


the force is applied

A moving car has momentum. When this car crashes, its momentum is changed. A change in momentum is called an is an applied over a period of

time .

Mass is how much matter is in something. Acceleration is how fast you are changing your speed. Velocity is speed in a direction. A force is a push or a pull. Momentum is mass in motion. Impulse is the force times the time the force is applied.

Experiment #2

Egg Toss Stop that egg!

In the cars collision, the

Determines the amount of damage to the car and the passengers

Newtons First Law of Motion Inertia

Without a push or a pull, an object at rest remains at rest and an object in motion remains in motion.

Newtons 3rd Law of Motion

When object 1 pushes on object 2 with a force

object 2 pushes back on object 1 with the same force but

in the opposite direction.

What causes vehicle crashes?

Speeding Too many lane changes Following too closely Running red lights Distractions Driving while under the influence

Have you ever wondered what happens inside a car when it crashes?
In each car crash there are actually three collisions:

The Car's Collision

The Human Collision

The Internal Collision

If the

time to stop a
is is

Then the stopping

and the

to the car and driver is


If the

time to stop a

the stopping


and the
to car and driver is less.

Car Crash

In a Car's Collision
During a crash, the car crashes to a stop. At 30 mph, a car hitting an object that is not moving will crumple in about two feet. As the car crushes, it absorbs some of the force of the collision and increases the stopping time.

More stopping time means

In a the stopping



by having a
front end and bumper on the car.

The Human Collision

At the moment of impact, passengers in the automobile are still traveling at the vehicles original velocity. When the car comes to a complete stop the passengers continue to be hurled forward until they come in contact with some part of the automobile
(the steering wheel, the dashboard, the front window or back of the front seat).

Humans in a crash can also cause serious injuries to other humans when they collide with each other. People in the front seat of a car are often hit by rear-seat passengers as they fly forward with incredible force.

The Internal Collision

In a crash, even after a human body comes to a complete stop, its internal organs are still moving. Suddenly, these internal organs slam into other organs or the skeletal system. This "internal collision" is what often causes serious injury or death.

What happens when two objects collide?

Influences: Mass Momentum Velocity Impulse Time

The impulse experienced by the car equals a change in momentum. As car designers, we only have control over mass and time.

What Helps Drivers and Passengers Survive Collisions?

Air Bags Seatbelts Bumpers

Purpose is to restrain passengers from tossing back and forth after a collision

Lap belt protects the pelvis and the shoulder belt protects the rib cage
Have ability to extend and retract, but in a collision the belts will suddenly tighten up and hold passengers in place

Air Bags
Purpose is to slow down passengers speed after a crash

A soft pillow to land against in a crash

Works within a fraction of a second

Sometimes an air bag

or seatbelt is used to
No airbag No seatbelt No seatbelt with baby Hit from behind Seat belts

stop the passenger

The bumpers purpose is to absorb crash energy without significant damage to the bumper itself and no damage to the vehicles rear or front end. Low speed crashes mostly occur in urban traffic. Less damage is done in a collision when 2 vehicles are lined up bumper to bumper. Bumpers can protect other components of a vehicle.

But as the driver, please remember,

does kill.

Distance it takes to safely stop a car

Speed (mph) Reaction Time (ft) Breaking Distance (ft) Total Stopping Distance (ft)

20 50 65 70

22 60.5 65 77

24 181.5 253.5 294

46 242 325 371
Longer than a football field

How many times have you heard people say

I dont need to buckle up. I am just going around the block. I was just going 30 mph. While it is true that slower speeds reduce the risk, dont forget that seat belt! 11 percent of all fatal crashes occurred when the car was going 30 mph or less.

Think of the following scenarios, when you make that choice to use your seat belt:
At 3 mph Imagine that you are hit head-on by a football tackle running 3 mph. He knocks you flat and your head hits the turf. You wake up in the hospital with a serious concussion and a sprained neck.
At 15 mph Imagine shoving your face into the windshield or your chest into the steering wheel at that speed, with no helmet, no pads, and no chance to brace yourself

At 35 mph
You are driving at 35 mph when a deer darts in front of your car. You brake quickly, miss the deer and keep your car on the road. Shaken up, you pull over. An officer stops to offer assistance and then issues a citation for not buckling up. "Next time, you might not be so lucky, he says.

At 40 mph
Suppose you stand on top of a five story building and fall off head first. This represents 40 mph.

Would you jump?

Remember, More stopping time, means less force!!

Bumper Design Challenge
Automotive Design Engineering Challenge

What are the three types of collisions that occur during a car crash? What are some causes of car crashes? How can you remain safe in a car?

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