In every automobile accident there are two collisions. The first is the impact between the automobile and another vehicle, a tree, abutment or some other obstruction. The second collision occurs when the occupants of the automobile strike the interior of the vehicle (or the ground if they are thrown clear). Many investigators and most organizations concerned with traffic safety have directed their efforts towards preventing the occurrence or severity of the first collision. Admonitions to drive safely, or defensively, are attempts to eliminate the first collision. So is research into the relationship between alcohol and automobile accidents. Most efforts to produce safer roads and highways fall into this category.
Research toward prevention of accidents also, of course, helps prevent the second collision. But direct research in this area is infrequent and often is supported inadequately. Investigations into firstcollision causes and prevention are important and certainly should not be discontinued in
AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS. JAMA. 1966;196(9):793. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100220085030
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