People often make the mistake of assuming when they are rear ended, if there is no or minimal damage to their vehicle they cannot have been hurt significantly. This is not true at all. When a vehicle is struck from behind by another vehicle at slow speeds, say less than 5mph, there are many variables that come into play as to the extent the occupants can be hurt. I know not everyone likes physics, but I will use a basic equation to demonstrate the most critical one.
F = M x V
Force equals Mass x Velocity. 5mph seems slow, and it is for a car or truck or a bus etc. However those things have a LOT of Mass. Cars weight a few thousand pounds and trucks even more and busses even more! So the Force, even at 5mph, of being rear-ended is very large. And the faster the impact the greater the force gets. Let me flip that upside down with another example. Most of us have at seen a rifle bullet. Many of us have shot pistols and rifles. The bullet weights only a few tiny grams, so it's Mass is super small. However, when shot out of a gun it's Velocity is massive, thousands of feet per second. So the bullet has tremendous Force at impact. Isn't physics cool? I I thinks so! Now let's look at NASCAR for a minuet. Everyone has likely seen how those cars appear to almost explode when they are in a wipe out, right? There is a very critical reason race cars do that. First of all they are going at super high speeds, huge Velocity in other words. And they have a LOT of Mass. This exactly why they are designed to break in very specific ways in an accident. Why? Simple, to bleed away the Force of the collision from the occupant, the driver. When metal bends and crushes and breaks apart it is absorbing the Force, the massive energy, of the impact of the crash and shielding the driver from it. So by the time the car comes to rest, the drive has not been subject to large total force of that crash at that high speed, and thus, as impossible as it seems after watching those cars bust apart and the tires go flying as they bounce and roll across the race track, the driver simple climbs out of the wreckage and walks away basically fine. Now, of course those guys are very carefully restrained and strapped in and wearing helmets and inside the roll cage, also designed to absorb a lot of force, but the point is there is massive damage to the car and minimal to none to the occupant. OK, Let's go back to you being rear-ended. When two vehicles collide in this manner the bumpers take the initial impact. Now days, car bumpers are able to withstand collisions of upwards of 15-20 mph without suffering any damage. That's great right? Well, only if you are a car insurance company and you want to avoid paying thousands to replace damaged bumpers in low impact collisions. When those bumpers do not break from the Force of the impact, that Force travels through the vehicle frame minimally abated. And when it reaches the occupant, YOU, you are then subject to rapid acceleration by that Force. And THAT acceleration can damage ligaments, muscles and tendons in your spine. These injuries can not always be felt initially, more so in lower impact collisions, but with time they manifest in all sorts of ways, pain, head aches, loss of range of motion, numbness in the hands or feet. All kinds of things. Even worse, left unrecognized and properly addressed, the resulting structural distortion of your spine and pelvis can lead to arthritis down the road. The idea is even in low speed read-end collisions with no or minimal damage, you should be checked out by the most qualified doctor to identify the issues, ME!
If you or anyone you know has been rear-ended, come have a complimentary consult at my office to see if you need to be further evaluated. Sooner the better!
Yours in Health,