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Correct Creative Writing: Writing a Car Crash (Types of Car Accidents)

So, you have a creative project and in it you want to write about a car accident (or MVA - Motor Vehicle Accident). If you haven't been in one yourself that's serious enough for Emergency Services, you might have some questions about how to correctly write one, brought to you by your friendly neighbourhood Paramedic with Firefighter training.

Correctly writing a car accident will take time to learn and some proper reading. What you want to happen (death, injury, life altering event) will completely change how you write the crash. These are the most common types of car crashes with their most common mechanism of injury.

Writing a Head On Collision

A head on collision is a high velocity collision. Serious injury can result, even at relatively low speeds. The injuries will depend on if your character is wearing a seatbelt. If they aren't, then it is highly likely that their head will either hit the inside of the windshield (causing the windshield to spiderweb) or they will go right through the windshield in an ejection. Ejections are a common cause of death in an MVA. If your character hits the windshield (ejection or not) it is completely rational for them to have a brain bleed.

Another common area of trauma in a head on collision is the chest, especially for the driver. Think of it this way... you're going 70 mph and come to an abrupt stop. Everything in that car is still going 70 mph. So, your body comes to a stop against the seatbelt. Then your organs come to a stop against the front fo the body. Hitting a steering wheel can kill someone instantly. If the airbags deploy (which they will in any newer vehicle) then the face can get pretty messed up.

In newer vehicles, the motor is designed to go underneath the front seats to prevent the motor caving in the front seats. In older vehicles, this isn't the case. So the motor will come into the front seats. Survival rate is low to miraculous if this is the case.

Writing a Rollover

Writing a rollover can be tricky because it depends on where the person is sitting. The impact is lateral, so neck injuries are super common. Ejections are also really common if someone isn't wearing a seatbelt. This is also how spine injuries can occur.

Rollovers can occur easily on a grid road or if someone swerves going high speeds. They can cause head injuries (head hitting the side window) if there's no side airbags in the vehicle.

Writing a Rear Impact Collision

So, someone is stopped at a light and get rammed from behind. This is a really common type of fender bender. If seatbelts are being used, then a common type of injury is from the seatbelt. They snap tight and the human is projected into the belt. This can cause bruising and pain. Whiplash is common, and the seatbelt can cause internal bleeding.

Writing a T-Bone Collision

These can be pretty dramatic and honestly pretty messing. Same as a rollover. Lots of busted glass and twisted metal. Injuries are dramatic and life threatening. Missing arms, broken backs, head and chest injuries, all of these are common in a T-Bone.

T-Bone collisions will also most likely need a fire department to cut patients out of the wreckage. EMS can and will go into the vehicle to start treatment (putting a c-collar on, starting an IV line, administering oxygen and pain medication) while the fire department is cutting a patient out. Again, this can be used to increase the drama of the scene.

Writing About Drunk Driving

When someone is drunk and driving on the highway, especilally at night, they tend to swerve because they are focusing on the lights coming towards them. A vehicle will go to wherever the driver is looking. So, when a drunk is driving, they tend to meander across the center line because they focus on the oncoming headlights. Then they can either overcorrect back to their lane (causing a rollover) or they will hit the lights head on.

Drunks tend to not have the worst injuries in car accidents. It has something to do with them not tensing up because their reflexes are so slow (says the rumor mill). But there's a reason that the drunk driver lives while their victim does not.

These are the most common, although I know there's more. The biggest thing about writing a car accident in a creative work is that you need to think about the motion of the bodies AND the items in the car. Are seatbelts being used? Are there airbags? The injuries that you want your character to have is going to be directly related to the type of car accident. Police, fire and EMS will all be on scene. And the jaws of life can be used (although EMS can break patients out of cars with crowbars if they are tired of waiting on Fire to show up).

Make it correct. Make it dramatic. Because most car accidents are dramatic. They're shit shows. So happy writing... And make it good.

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