Posted on: November 30, 2011
Speeding cars are always dangerous, even when the vehicles are driven by professionals for NASCAR. NASCAR has had fatal, serious car accidents in the past, but is constantly making improvements to prevent car accidents.
As a Charleston car accident attorney , I though a recent news report about the top five safety devices now being used in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series was interesting. Here’s more from the story:
The HANS device, or the Head and Neck Support device, is a relatively new piece of equipment. The device looks like a brace that secures the helmet so that, in a crash, the driver’s head will not whip around and the driver’s neck will be protected. The mandated use of the device arose out of the tragic death of NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt in 2001. It is widely believed that if he had used the HANS device, he would have survived the crash during the Daytona 500 in 2001.
After a particularly scary crash in which Rusty Wallace flipped his car multiple times, NASCAR began to mandate the use of roof flaps. Before the roof flaps were added, if a car lifted off the ground, spectators would be able to watch the flipping car perform feats of aerial acrobatics that could wind up seriously injuring the driver. Roof flaps have helped keep many cars on the ground and many drivers safe. The flaps work by rising up when hit by air in a certain way and, by rising, the flaps reduce the likelihood of the car going airborne. Although other safety features are intended to protect the driver if the car does flip, preventing the flip in the first place is by far the safest option.
Instead of a regular gas tank, Sprint Cup stock cars utilize fuel cells. A fuel cell is made of multiple layers of protective material that insulate a fuel “bladder,” which holds 18 gallons of fuel. When the regular gas tanks were used, fires would start and quickly spread to the cockpit area of the car or cause the gas tank to explode. With fuel cells, there is a greatly reduced chance of any fires getting to the fuel and, if the fire does get to the fuel, there is little chance of the fire spreading or the fuel cell exploding.
Drivers are required to wear special body suits, gloves and boots that are designed to be flame-retardant so that in the event of a fire, the driver is significantly less likely to be burned. These fire suits are generally custom designed and made for each driver. Gasoline fires burn fairly hot so it is very important that the drivers have top notch fire suits.
The roll cage is one of the most important safety devices in use in NASCAR. The roll cage protects the driver’s cockpit area in the event of a crash. Even if the rest of the car is smashed away, as long as the roll cage holds up, the driver has a good chance of walking away from the accident. Current roll cages are made out of steel. The driver’s seat is bolted directly onto the roll cage for maximum protection.
As a car accident lawyer in Charleston, I’m glad to hear about these safety features.