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Dublin: 0°C Sunday 11 April 2021

This is what we'd have to look like if we wanted to survive every car crash

Meet Graham.

HE HAS AN enormous padded head, airbags (with extra nipples) between each rib and long, antelope-like feet. He also has no neck.

Graham Source: Traffic Accident Commission Victoria

Meet Graham, the model built to show us what we would have to look like in order to withstand crashes on the road. And he’s not pretty.

The Transport Accident Commission of Victoria, Australia, collaborated with a leading trauma surgeon, a crash investigation expert and a Melbourne artist to produce Graham, a model made from silicone, fibreglass, resin and human hair.

Their aim was to show how vulnerable our bodies really are, and to encourage people to take more care on the roads.

Not evolved for crashes

Christian Kenfield, the trauma surgeon advising on the project, says:

We really weren’t designed to tolerate the injuries that we sustain in motor vehicle accidents. With our increased speeds, even the good design of the body is not protecting our organs.

Humans have only evolved to withstand impacts at speeds people can reach unassisted by vehicles. Even the force of a crash at 30km per hour is enough to be fatal.

“People can survive running at full pace into a wall but when you’re talking about collisions involving vehicles, the speeds are faster, the forces are greater and the chances of survival are much slimmer,” TAC chief executive officer Joe Calafiore said.

Source: TACVictoria/YouTube via Traffic Accident Commission Victoria

Dr David Logan, the advising road safety engineer, says:

The truth is that cars have evolved much faster than we have. Our bodies are just not equipped to handle the forces in crash scenarios.

The TAC are working on their public safety campaign Towards Zero, which aims to reduce deaths and serious injuries on the road.

Graham is an interactive sculpture and is on show at the State Library of Victoria until 8 August before hitting the road.

If you want a closer look, here’s a 360° view of him.


Australia is not alone in dealing with road safety issues. There have been 93 people killed on our roads since January, up eight on this time last year.

There were over 200,000 separate instances of speeding in 2015, despite numerous campaigns to raise awareness that speed is a significant contributor to road accidents.

Noel Gibbons, road safety officer with Mayo County Council, says “The human body is very vulnerable so we need to use our roads with this in mind. One of the real injuries that we have as humans in a high-speed car crash is a neck injury, a cervical spine fracture or dislocation of the ligaments as the head flexes forward and then hyper-extends back.”

Safety cameras have been in use throughout Ireland since 2010 and in recent months gardaí have been running a number of operations targeting drunk drivers.

Read: Car tip: Lighting up during the day can save lives

Read: Should there be a 30km per hour speed limit in more residential areas?

About the author:

Elizabeth O'Malley

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