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It’s rarely the bears in the woods or the sharks in the water that get us. Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of injury and non-natural-caused death in the U.S. More than 2.5 million drivers and passengers are treated in emergency departments each year as the result of being injured in motor vehicle collisions.

While there are no guaranteed techniques to survive all crashes, there are a few things that will help.

1. Wear a seatbelt
Every trip, in any vehicle. The primary lifesaver in vehicle collisions is wearing your seat belt. This sturdy and well-engineered belt prevents us from being tossed around the interior, thrown into the steering wheel, or ejected from the vehicle in the event of a crash. It’s a proven statistic that seat belts reduce injuries and death by 50 percent. And in many places, seat belt use is the law.

2. Drive the speed limit
Speed equals G-forces, and those forces equal bodily damage.

3. Drive a safer make and model
Smaller vehicles with less reinforcement are more dangerous.

4. Eliminate loose objects
That can of soup flying toward your head at 60 MPH can kill you. Stow your groceries and loose items in the trunk or truck bed.

5. Hold your hands at “9” and “3”
We’ve all heard “10” and “2”, but keeping your hands in a lower position will keep them out of the way of an airbag deployment. This keeps your hands from hitting you in the face and head.

6. Keep an escape tool handy
This device can cut seat belts and smash open windows. Just keep it readily accessible, but secured so that it isn’t a loose object. These do you no good when stored in the trunk.

7. Know how to swim
Should your vehicle crash into water, the risk of being trapped in the vehicle and drowning is high. In situations like these, it’s easy to panic, wasting precious time and air. Focus on tasks. Get your seat belt off (after the initial impact to the water). Instruct any passengers to do the same. Roll down one window, get a big lung full of air, and climb out. Swim to the surface, and make sure everyone is out. Be prepared to swim to shore, potentially pulling others with you if you’re able to do so.

Survived a car crash? We’re glad you made it. Tell us your tale by leaving a comment.

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