Saturday, September 28, 2019

Vehicle-buggy accidents, Part 1

A pickup truck with the hood 40" above the ground about to hit a buggy with 38" diameter wheels. Occupant in image is sized to be about eleven years old.
Mid-Western states have a growing population of people who live the Amish, Christian tradition.

One characteristic of the Amish is that they avoid many modern technologies, including powered transportation like gas powered automobiles. Unfortunately, they lose the benefit of many of the safety improvements that come with a modern automobile.

Traditional horse-drawn buggies have many characteristics that make serious injury, even death, likely when in accidents.

They are typically fabricated from wood. Wood does a poor job absorbing crash energy. It does not deform plastically and it is difficult to create efficient joints between separate members. An additional issue with wood is that it splinters and pose a puncture risk.

The geometry of buggies place the occupants high in the air and the seats do not support the head and neck for whiplash events.

Part 1 will only discuss the likely fate of a buggy passenger being hit by a pickup truck from behind.

Image One: The truck is blue and is traveling from left-to-right. Occupant of buggy has a sitting height of 48"

Image Two: Buggy wheels shatter and/or go flying off the buggy so quickly that no energy is absorbed. Events happen so fast that the occupant is essentially suspended in space through the rest of the event.

Image Three: Same as above but the occupant has been replicated with basic shapes to illustrate likely "articulation" through the rest of the event

Image Four: Leading edge of hood impacts rear-and-bottom of the occupant's hip. Shear forces cause severe damage spinal cord immediately above hip-girdle and to brain-stem. Trunk of body is experiencing negative pitch.

Image Five: This image shows the occupant flying toward the truck windshield like a human cannonball. Net velocity of the occupant vis-a-vis the truck is approximately 40 mph. Hips slightly elevated from prior position as the top of the occupant's trunk rotates aft relative to the occupant's center of gravity.

Image Six: Head impacts windshield, snapping it forward on his neck creating Dale Ernhardt brain trauma. Steam-flash trauma occurs in the frontal lobes of the brain. Knees overbend and rip ALCs to shreds.
Word pictures describing the remainder of event:
  • The vehicle airbag did not deploy. This event looks like a deer-strike to the module tasked with determining deploy/nondeploy events.
  • The windshield will partially cave in and the occupant will slide up the windshield like dirt being pushed by a bulldozer blade.
  • The top-back of the occupants head will hit the steel structure supporting the top of the windshield (called the windshield header).
  • The occupant's body will fly up into the air(as much as 20 high), forward and off to the side after hitting the windshield. It might land in the lane of on-coming traffic or, more likely, beside the road.

Key points: 
  • Height of the bullet vehicle and the vertical location of the occupant make a HUGE difference in the subsequent dynamics of the buggy occupant.
  • Sixty mph (approximately one inch per millisecond) impacts may not be survivable. As a frame-of-reference, the sound of fingers being snapped is about five milliseconds.
  • Many impacts occur at lower speeds as distracted driver notices problem before impact and manages to hit brakes and scrub off some speed.
  • Thirty mph impacts may be survivable with structural modifications to the buggy to remediate trauma causing sub-events.
  • A collision involves multiple impacts, any which can kill or seriously maim the occupant.
  • Examples of impacts with potentially fatal results include the neck trauma in Image Four, the frontal brain trauma and, separately, the neck trauma in Image Six, the post-impact landing of the occupant after ricocheting off the windshield.
Part 2


  1. And multiple broken bones are the BEST they can hope for. Probably a dead horse too.

  2. Considering the number of amish folk in several states, I’m surprised there isn't a body of research already established, but then on the other hand they don't vote so there wouldnt be any political preasure to reduce the danger.

    1. They are apolitical.

      The roads in Branch County with large numbers of Amish seem to get less maintenance than non-Amish roads.

      I don't know if it is because the Amish don't buy much fuel so don't contribute much to the road fund or animosity or just a coincidence.


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