Side collision

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A crash test by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows the damage to a compact Ford Focus struck by a Ford Explorer SUV
Side impact NCAP test of a 2007 Saturn Outlook.
This NHTSA collision test shows what happens when a Volkswagen Beetle slides sideways into an utility pole or a tree.
Two cars are involved in a side collision at an intersection in Tokyo, Japan

Side collisions are vehicle crashes where the side of one or more vehicles is impacted. These crashes often occur at intersections, in parking lots, and when two vehicles pass on a multi-lane roadway.

Broadside or T-bone collision[edit]

Broadside collisions are where the side of one vehicle is impacted by the front or rear of another vehicle, forming a "T". In the United States and Canada this collision type is also known as right-angle collision or T-bone collision; it is also sometimes referred to by the abbreviation "AABS" for "auto accident, broadside".[1] Vehicle damage and occupant injury are more likely to be severe, but severity varies based on the part of the vehicle that is struck, safety features present, the speeds of both vehicles, and vehicle weight and construction.

When a vehicle is hit on the side by another vehicle, the crumple zones of the striking vehicle will absorb some of the kinetic energy of the collision. The crumple zones of the struck vehicle may also absorb some of the collision's energy, particularly if the vehicle is not struck on its passenger compartment. Both vehicles are frequently turned from their original directions of travel. If the collision is severe, the struck vehicle may be spun or rolled over, potentially causing it to strike other vehicles, objects, or pedestrians. After the collision, the involved vehicles may be stuck together by the folding of their parts around each other.

An occupant on the struck side of a vehicle may sustain far more severe injuries than an otherwise similar front or rear collision crash.

Side-impact airbags can protect vehicle occupants during side collisions, but they face the same limitations as other airbags. Additionally, side impact wrecks are more likely to involve multiple individual collisions or sudden speed changes before motion ceases. Since the airbag can only provide protection during the first collision, it may leave occupants unprotected during subsequent collisions in the crash. However, the first collision in a crash typically has the most severe forces, so an effective airbag provides maximum benefit during the most severe portion of a crash.

Broadside collisions are frequently caused by a failure to yield right of way. In the case of collisions in an intersection, the cause is often a result of one vehicle failing to obey traffic signals (fail to stop or running past a red light). As with any crash, increased speed may increase crash severity.


Euro NCAP, IIHS and NHTSA test side impacts in different ways. As of 2015, they all test vehicle-to-vehicle side impacts,[2][3] where heavier vehicles have lower fatality rates than lighter vehicles.[4]

NHTSA and EuroNCAP also test the more severe vehicle-into-pole side impacts,[5] where smaller vehicles have the same fatality rate as larger vehicles.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Logan, Carolynn M.; Rice, M. Katherine (1987). Logan's Medical and Scientific Abbreviations. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company. p. 3. ISBN 0-397-54589-4. 
  2. ^ "NHTSA Crash Test". Consumer Reports. April 2014. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  3. ^ "Euro NCAP - Side Mobile Barrier". Euro NCAP. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  4. ^ a b Malcolm Howard Ray (27 October 2014). "Impact conditions in side-impact collisions with fixed roadside objects". ResearchGate. p. 9. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 
  5. ^ "Euro NCAP - Side Pole". Euro NCAP. Retrieved 5 October 2015. 

External links[edit]