Daughter Survived major accident in her Prius

Discussion in 'Gen 3 Prius Main Forum' started by The Corginator, Apr 30, 2019.

  1. The Corginator

    The Corginator New Member

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    My daughter was stopped at a red light light in her 2010 Prius when she was hit from behind by a car believed to be going about 45 miles per hour, and was propelled into the Chevy Tahoe that was in front of her. Her car was absolutely destroyed, and yet she was able to walk away from this accident. I had to share this because I was amazed at how such a small car was able to protect the driver in such a horrific crash. Actually, having looked at the interior, I think that the people in the back seat may have been ok, too. However, If my daughters dog had been with her in the hatch back area, he would have been a goner. I just had to leave a testimony on how well built this car is.

    One thing that does have me concerned is that only ONE airbag deployed, the one in the steering wheel, which was actually pushed into the dash. ALL of the airbags in the other two vehicles involved deployed. Was this to be expected? I would have thought, especially since the Prius was in the middle and had by far the worst damage, that all of its airbags would have deployed as well. Was there a malfunction of some sort?

    Anyway, my daughter absolutely loved that car and wants to replace it with another exactly like it!
     
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  2. TMR-JWAP

    TMR-JWAP Senior Member

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    I believe the airbags deploy based on direction of impact and occupant sensors. The side impact airbags shouldn't deploy for a front/rear impact. The passenger airbags would only deploy if the car knew there was a passenger present due to the weight sensor in seat and/or seatbelt status.

    And very glad to hear she walked away. I'm sure she'll be feeling it later, but any walk away is a good day.
     
  3. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    Coming from a series of 20th Century cars, I just can't describe the Prius as 'small'. It is significantly larger and heavier than all but one of my household's prior cars. Only our Subaru Legacy Wagon was heavier -- just barely, about 100 pounds more. The Prius is actually taller than that Subaru.

    Most modern cars should be very similarly safe as that Prius. The entire field is far safer than a couple decades ago, as safety design has been progressing rapidly.
    No malfunction, this is expected. Airbag deployment is both expensive and inherently hazardous to the occupants, so is held back to only when its benefits should exceed the hazards. In the middle sandwich position of a rear-ender chain reaction, this will often mean that even the steering wheel bag doesn't fire. That fact that hers did, and the steering wheel was partially collapsed from her striking it, suggests that even the secondary impact into the Tahoe was quite strong.
     
    #3 fuzzy1, Apr 30, 2019
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2019
  4. jb in NE

    jb in NE Senior Member

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    I think so. I'll echo what previous commenters noted.

    With an impact from the rear, the side airbags don't need to deploy. The passenger airbag did not deploy because there is a sensor in the seat that detects that there is no passenger. So, the only occupant of the vehicle (the driver) needed only the front airbag for protection, and that is the bag that deployed.

    The other vehicle may have been swerving at the time, which would translate some of the collision impact into side forces that triggered more airbags on that vehicle. Additionally, that vehicle was traveling at high speed and likely had very rapid deceleration from the front, which may fire all the front airbags.
     
  5. smyles

    smyles Active Member

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    And all this is in Prime forum why, exactly?
     
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  6. nicoj36

    nicoj36 Member

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    There is an airbag recall in certain years as well.
     
  7. The Corginator

    The Corginator New Member

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    I wondered about that, less than a year ago someone ran a red light and t-boned my 2007 Toyota Sienna and only my driver's side air bag deployed. Totaled the Sienna, but I had no injuries. I guess my concern was that EVERY air bag deployed in the other 2 vehicles, even though the damage to their cars was significantly less than that of the Prius. Neither of those vehicles was a Toyota, so maybe not all car manufacturers use such specific sensors? However, I read that there is a knee air bag, and that did not deploy. The dash of the car was pushed forward, but not the steering wheel, which makes the steering wheel look sunken into the dash. It would seem to me that this is the exact circumstances that a knee bag would need to be deployed. My daughter has some bruises on her knees, but nothing serious.
     
  8. fuzzy1

    fuzzy1 Senior Member

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    That would be your answer. Bruises on the knee, but nothing serious, indicates that said bag was not necessary. That bag was added for different situations that commonly lead to serious injury.
     
  9. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    Glad all is as good as can be expected.

    As stated yes the airbags deployed as designed. Airbags are NOT fluffy pillows of clouds that protect you. They are violent chemical explosions designed to be the lesser of evil between death/mutilation and just being bruised and some broken bones. Since the knees escaped injury and are just bruised, no airbag needed. You want the minimal amount of airbags. Lots of other cars just deploy everything all the time and this can be detrimental but it makes people feel warm and fuzzy because all the pillows exploded. Toyota does it properly.

    As to your Prius surviving the impact, that's exactly what it's designed to do. When you see an accident where one car just looks completely destroyed from the outside basically missing a front and a back that's exactly what's supposed to happen. The cars but usually trucks and SUVs that look like they "barely had a scratch" are not safer to be in. They were subjected to the same forces but the vehicle didn't protect the bag of flesh inside by crumpling. You need to dissipate lots of force in a very small time period and very small linear distance. That means accordion style compression of everything possible to prevent the cabin and interior from shrinking very much. Did the doors still open/close?
     
  10. Leadfoot J. McCoalroller

    Leadfoot J. McCoalroller Senior Member

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    You generally want as little airbag action as is needed.

    When more than one goes off, the inflation rate tends to drop a little because it's competing with the other airbags while cabin air gets pushed out (through the trunk vent, open or broken window etc).

    Also they're expensive to replace, so the insurance industry has pushed automakers to install occupancy sensors in the hopes that repair claims can be lowered. Obviously that doesn't matter when the car is totaled, but they've come up with a pretty smart system that can decide which ones to fire in a split second, long before you can figure out rebuildable status.
     
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  11. The Corginator

    The Corginator New Member

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    My daughter managed to get out of the driver's side door but the others were all too messed up too open. Looking at the wrecked car it is exactly as you described, the cabin is mostly intact but the front and back are totally crushed. Yep, definitely sticking with Toyotas. And my daughter wants another Prius. My sister-in-law was bragging about getting 35 miles to the gallon with her Smart car that seats two, but my daughter politely refrained herself from saying big deal, my car seats five and gets 50 miles to the gallon, and has a much smoother ride!
     
  12. 2k1Toaster

    2k1Toaster Brand New Prius Batteries

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    We see that a lot. Prius has saved so many people that they just go get another Prius. And there is no problem with that.

    Unfortunately I also see people that get hit in their car and then say they want to replace it with a large SUV or truck because it's safer. Well, it's not. And usually since they are built on truck frames and not subject to passenger vehicle safety requirements they are much less safe than a smaller vehicle. There was a Top Gear (UK with Clarkson) from a long time ago where he and the Hamster looked at Euro NCAP vehicles 5 star, 4 star, and 3 star. They had a big Land Rover, the kind that people think are safe. It was 3 star rated and you'd have a mouth full of steering wheel, shattered kneecaps, shattered ankles, and maybe cut in half at the chest while the entire passenger cabin had crumpled and deformed by a good 8-10 inches opposite of the door.

    Good luck on finding the next Prius!
     
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  13. The Corginator

    The Corginator New Member

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    Wow, that is good to know! BTW, I was wrong about the knee airbag not deploying, it did deploy and bruised my daughter's knees. A good trade-off as the dash was partially pushed in.
     
  14. jb in NE

    jb in NE Senior Member

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    That's the front and rear of the car absorbing energy as designed. Very sophisticated design features on newer cars. The engines and transmissions break loose and go out the bottom, the front and rear of the car are sacrificial crush zones. The doors are nicely reinforced, and the B pillar is very sturdy to keep the body shell as intact as possible. Add to that pre-tensioning seatbelts and an array of airbags, head rests, breakaway steering wheel/columns, etc.
     
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  15. BruceInOKC

    BruceInOKC Member

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    Corginator, I'm glad your daughter could walk away. The crash design and safety systems of the car did their job. I've known two people who moved up to SUVs after severe Prius crashes, but I agree with 2k1Toaster. Bigger vehicles don't guarantee higher safety.

    In 2009, I was in a sandwich wreck with a '97 Camry that totaled it, but I walked away with only a sore neck. It happened so fast, I didn't feel the second impact or see the airbag deploy. I'm not the litigious type, but tell your daughter not to settle with the insurance companies until she's certain she has no injuries. Get checked out by a doctor, who may order imaging tests.
     
    #15 BruceInOKC, May 1, 2019
    Last edited: May 1, 2019
  16. Montgomery

    Montgomery Senior Member

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    We are a Toyota family. 3 Yaris's and my Prius. Low maintenance, easy to work on, fun to drive, cool sound systems, easy to mod out, cool to look at, great mpg..........................
     
  17. jb in NE

    jb in NE Senior Member

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    That's a bit of a stretch for both the Yaris and the Prius. I like the way my Prime drives, but it's no looker.
     
  18. Montgomery

    Montgomery Senior Member

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    Opinions, opinions.........LoL
     
  19. The Corginator

    The Corginator New Member

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    I guess it's a matter of opinion, my Sienna is pretty boring, but I think that the Prius is cool and sporty looking!
     
  20. Apatel1101

    Apatel1101 Member

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    While i was reading in to inverter recall, this article talked about side airbags and knee airbags. This might be the answer but like others said since it was front and rear crash the side airbags dont deploy.

    https://www.google.com/amp/s/amp.usatoday.com/amp/1532120002
     
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