Do You Ride with a Guillotine Next to Your Head?

Some forty years ago, in addition to teaching Traffic Safety Education courses at Southern Connecticut State University, I was a driver risk-management consultant for various corporations. I would evaluate the crashes that took place and develop behavioral patterns as counter-measure against future crashes.

One of the crashes I evaluated is still very memorable. The woman ran a red light and was T-boned by my client’s driver. Her drivers-side window was half open. Although she had a safety belt on, the force of the impact lifted her body and slammed her head down onto the edge of the open window. The top of her head was cleanly cut off, just as though someone had sliced it off with a guillotine.

That crash prompted me to recommend to all of my clients and driver education teachers that windows should remain closed, or if they must be open, have them fully open.

What is especially scary to me is when I see kids in the back seat with the window half down and their heads sometimes partially out of the car hovering over the edge of the window. And, the parent is zipping through the intersection like it’s a matter of life or death to get through the intersection. Sometimes life ends!

Next time you get into your car take your fist and tap it against the closed window; then open your window halfway and tap on the open edge of the window. Feel the difference. Which surface would you want your head to slam into at 40 mph?

Thirty years ago I was asked by the California Department of Licensing if they could videotape some of the demonstrations that I would perform when I conducted workshop presentations. The following link is the video they produced.

Windows Up — No Guillotine

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