If you’re sitting in a car that is about to be hit from the side by another car, is it better to place your head in contact with the door frame on the side of impact before it hits, or better not to?

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If you’re sitting in a car that is about to be hit from the side by another car, is it better to place your head in contact with the door frame on the side of impact before it hits, or better not to?

In: Physics

Definitely not. The door, and the rest of the car frame, are going to absorb some of the energy of the impact. This will slow down the speed of the oncoming car. When the door is impacted, it will start moving faster, and then begin to slow down. If you put your head on the door, you will get hit by it when it is going the fastest.

Definitely not to.

Imagine putting your head touching a punching bag while someone hits it from the other side. The energy from the hit transfers through the bag onto your head, launching it with more force (and scrambling your brains). If you place your head away from the punching bag, the bag absorbs some of the energy by swinging before hitting your head.

Likewise, the crumpling of the frame will absorb some of the impact before reaching you. You don’t want to be close to that.

It would be best to keep your head as stationary as possible (think [chicken-head-levels](https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_xscP0k2YE) of stabilization), that would reduce the forces on the brain. The alternative is more for scenarios like free-falling, where you’d want to land as flat as possible (legs, butt, back, arms, shoulders and head all hitting at the same time) to spread the force out over your body, that means your head would take less *overall* force, you’d still get your bell rung.

You want to *avoid* rapid acceleration or deceleration, that’s what damages internals. So in your precise scenario you’d want your head *opposite* the side that would be impacted. If you were in the drivers seat and were getting hit on your side of the car then the best thing for your brain would be to lean to your right and get your head over the center console or passenger seat. Then hopefully the impact isn’t strong enough to move your car *past* that point because then your head will hit the door/window and you’ll be back to suffering a serious concussion at the very least.

Protect your head with both arms. It will reduce rotational movement of the brain and limit spinal motion, laterally.

You might break your arms, but that’s better than a brain or cervical spine injury.

Definitely not, and ESPECIALLY not in a car with airbags there.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QS6ywFGcLSk