Super-Ribs and a Fatty Head: What Our Bodies Should Look Like To Survive a Car Crash
Science| | By Valerie Cools
Meet Graham. No, he isn’t an alien from the next Star Wars movie. Graham is what we would all have to look like in order to survive a car crash.
Victoria’s Transport Accident Committee (TAC) has come up with an innovative project to help prevent car accidents. Rather than show the gruesome aftermath of crashes, they have commissioned an interactive sculpture showing how different the human body would have to be to withstand that kind of trauma.
“Cars have evolved a lot faster than we have. Our bodies are just not equipped to handle the forces in common crash scenarios,” said Dr. David Logan, a research fellow at the Monash University Accident Research Center in Melbourne.
Dr. Logan and Dr. Christian Kenfield, a trauma surgeon at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, collaborated with Patricia Piccinini, an Australian artist, to create Graham. Piccinini collected information about the most common kinds of trauma sustained by drivers and pedestrians, and used that information to envision Graham.
For example, on the project’s website, she explains that “Graham’s skull is a lot bigger. It’s almost helmet-like. And it’s got these inbuilt crumple zones that would absorb the energy on impact.”
Graham also has an extra-resistant rib cage. “These ribs are super-ribs,” Dr. Kenfield told The Guardian, “absorbing much more of the force.” The rib cage is lined with extra tissue that acts as a natural airbag.
If you’re wondering why Graham’s face looks the way it does, it’s because a flat design and fatty tissue are better for absorbing the impact. Graham’s skin is thicker, too, to better resist injury. And he has no neck, because necks break easily.
Graham also has contortionist-worthy knees that bend in all directions.
“I learned that one of the most common injuries to pedestrians is to the side of the knee,” said Piccinini. “Graham’s knees have movement in all directions, and they’re fortified with these tendons that allow his knees to bend in other ways.”
Finally, Graham has special, rabbit-like feet that would allow him to jump over an approaching car, avoiding accidents altogether.
The interactive sculpture is a creative and certainly striking way to draw attention to road safety, by highlighting all the ways in which our bodies are vulnerable.
“Graham is an educational tool that will serve the community for years to come as a reminder of why we need to develop a safer road system that will protect us when things go wrong,” said TAC chief executive officer Joe Calafiore.
Graham will be on display at the State Library of Victoria until August 8 before going on an Australian tour.