To Be Car Crash-Proof, We Would All Be Very Ugly

Scientists have modeled what a car-crash proof person would have to look like. It’s awful.

Meet Graham. Graham is specifically designed to be able to “survive on our roads.” At least that’s what Australia’s Transport Accident Commission (TAC) says.

The group from the TAC has been working on Graham as part of their Towards Zero initiative, similar to Vision Zero, is aimed at making roads, road systems, and drivers safer on the roads, and reducing car-related fatalities to zero.

Graham is part of larger initiative to illustrate that cars have evolved much faster than we have, and is meant to provide a highly visual illustration of just how vulnerable we are to car crashes.

When the Model T was first introduced in 1908, its top speed was 40-45 mph. That’s a maximum. Average speeds were much lower for most trips, while cars today regularly surpass 45 mph without ever getting on a highway.

And while safety technologies have certainly developed along with increased speeds, Graham is meant to show that highways and increased speeds have made travel more efficient, but also more dangerous.

In 2015 alone, the NHTSA reported 35,000 deaths from motor vehicle traffic crashes, or  1 about every 15 minutes.

Motor Vehicle Deaths in the US by year

Motor Vehicle Deaths in the US by year

Cue Graham, who features 8 main differences from our current human makeup. Some are geared toward motorists who would be traveling fast and stopping quickly in an accident. The neck, for instance, is an area that is particularly vulnerable to abrupt changes in momentum. Others, like the knees and feet, were solutions for the vulnerabilities of pedestrians and cyclists.

Graham's head, neck, face, ribs, skin, knees, and feet are the areas of largest change

Graham’s head, neck, face, ribs, skin, knees, and feet were redesigned to withstand modern roads

Melbourne-based artist Patricia Piccinini is responsible for sculpting Graham, but she worked with Dr. Christian Kenfield, a trauma surgeon, and Dr. David Logan, a researcher at Monash University specializing in road and car safety. Together they came up with Graham as a poignant visual of the dangers humans face on the road.

“We really weren’t designed to tolerate the injuries that we sustain in motor vehicle accidents.” said Kenfield in a video. “The dangers at even low speeds such as 25, 30, 35 kilometers per hour is quite great.”

Graham is evidence of the dangers posed by cars, and how susceptible we are to crashes on the roads. But, he also reminds us that car crashes are preventable. In the past 13 years, Spain has reduced motor vehicle deaths per capita by 75% to just 5.3 per 100,000, compared to 12.9 in the U.S. The CDC also reports that 3,000 lives would have been saved in 2013 had everyone involved in a fatal crash been wearing a seat belt.

So buckle up, strap on your helmet, and take the safety precautions now. We don’t want to look like Graham.