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Will Auto Racing Safety Tech Make its Way Over to Passenger Vehicles to Save Lives?

Even if you are not a fan of Formula One racing, there is a good chance you would have been impressed by a recent incident that could have ended tragically – but did NOT due to advancements in safety technology. A December 6, 2020 article published by Wired magazine covered the racing event, which erupted into mayhem within the first few turns. In short, during the frenzied push to gain position on the opening lap, the tires of two cars slightly bumped at speeds exceeding 135 miles per hour. One vehicle careened away, slamming into a barrier positioned to absorb the energy of a violent impact. The race car and driver exploded into flames. 

Mere seconds later, the driver emerged from the fiery vortex and walked away – mostly unscathed, but for some scrapes and minor burns. Those who witnessed or viewed the video were shocked; the result was no surprise to those who understand the science behind safety measures used in racing. The incident highlights four different technologies designed to minimize the effects of fatal and injury causing accidents, including:

Halo: This device is a padded ring that is positioned above the driver, which protects the head, neck, and spine as it absorbs the impact of the crash. The Halo is a relatively new technology that gained widespread use, and it is required by some racing circuits after the tragic death of popular racer Dale Earnhardt, Sr. Deceleration at a rate of 25 times that of gravity, combined with the weight of the helmet he was wearing, caused Earnhardt to suffer fatal trauma to his brain, neck, vasculature, and spine.

HANS (Head and Neck Support) System: Building on the support provided by the Halo, the HANS takes safety a step further. The equipment involves a horseshoe-shaped collar that the race car driver wears on the body, over the shoulders. A strap extends from the collar to snap onto the helmet, providing more stability when the driver is being tossed.  

Racing Harness: Race Car drivers are not the only ones benefiting from this auto safety technology, which gave rise to what today’s average motorist uses as a seatbelt. In racing, the five-point harness is considerably more advanced to include:

  • Two straps securing each shoulder;
  • Two lap belts to protect the pelvis; and,
  • One strap that extends down through the driver’s legs.

High-Tech Fabrics: Credit in the recent racing incident also goes to the fabrics comprising the driver’s suit: A person who would have been cremated instead survived. Nomex, a material developed by DuPont in 1961, burns slowly, requires excessive temperatures to do so, and extinguishes itself when away from flame.

Talk to Our Miami Car Accidents Lawyers About Your Options

From the above, you can appreciate the benefits of these safety technologies, though not all are practical for a typical passenger vehicle. If you were hurt in an auto crash, please contact Gerson & Schwartz, PA to set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach, FL.

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