Meet Graham. He may not be too easy on the eye, but he is the only person who is designed to survive on our roads.
Studies have shown that the human body can only withstand impacts at speeds that we can reach naturally, i.e. without a vehicle. Joe Calafiore, Transport Accident Commission, chief executive officer, explains:
“People can survive running at full pace into a wall but when you’re talking about collisions involving vehicles, the speeds are faster, the forces are greater and the chances of survival are much slimmer.”
Graham was created as part of an Australia road safety campaign earlier this year launched by the TAC in Victoria. He was designed by sculptor Patricia Piccinini in collaboration with Royal Melbourne Hospital trauma surgeon Dr Christian Kenfield and Monash University Accident Research Centre crash investigator David Logan.
His features show what humans would look like, had we evolved to be able to withstand road accidents.
Whilst the size of Graham’s brain hasn’t evolved, his skull is bigger with more fluid and ligaments to support the brain when collisions occurs. In a car crash, we are dealing with much greater forces than our brains are designed to take. Impact forces cause the brain to hit the walls of the skull, causing hundreds of neural connections to break and the whole structure of the brain to be damaged. Graham’s large sized head offers greater overall safety, effectively protecting the brain and reducing the damage caused on internal impact with the skull wall.
Graham’ skull has been engineered to absorb more of the impact, much like a helmet. The structure of his skull is larger, more helmet-like in design, with inbuilt crumple zones to absorb any impact forces. The crumple zones aid in slowing down the momentum of his head as it moves forward on impact and increases his skull’s ability to stop the force from continuing through to damage his brain.
Our faces are made up of bone, muscle and cartilage. In a crash, injuries to the face are commonly caused by impact with the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield and even shattered glass.
To overcome injuries to the face, Graham’s face is flat. His nose is reduced and his ears are protected by the larger structure of his skull and neck. Fatty tissue has been added around protruding areas like his cheekbones to help further absorb the energy on impact.
Neck injuries are very common in motor vehicle accidents. This is because there is not enough strength in the neck to stop the head from jolting forward in a crash. The head recoils forward and suddenly stops and then suddenly moves backwards, causing an extreme extension of both the neck and spine. Neck injuries range from whiplash to paraplegia or quadriplegia. To ensure adequate protection of the spinal cord, Graham has evolved to the point where he no longer has a neck, which makes his head more resilient in a car accident. Graham’s ribs have been extended up to strengthen his neck with a brace like structure.
Graham has been designed with stronger ribs to give him better protection in a crash. His chest is large and barrel-like to withstand greater impacts.
Graham’s ribs have sacks between them that do a similar job to that of an airbag. On impact these airbags absorb the force and reduce his forward momentum. They provide an inbuilt added layer of protection for the heart and other vital organs.
Joe Calafiore, TAC chief executive officer explained:
“Cars have evolved a lot faster than humans and Graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes.”
If you don’t have a body like Graham’s then think about slowing down next time you’re on the roads.
If you have bee unfortunate enough to have been involved in an accident and have suffered injury, you may be entitled to compensation. Please call Stacks Goudkamp on 1800 25 1800 to arrange your free, no-obligation assessment of your claim, or alternatively make an online enquiry.
Written by Emily Harris.
Emily Harris is a Practice Group Leader at Stacks Goudkamp. She has experience acting for clients in a variety of different areas, including motor vehicle claims, medical negligence claims and public liability claims.