SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Ever-improving safety features are saving lives in the most horrific of crashes where it's hard to imagine that anyone would be able to walk away. You and your family are protected by a so-called "crunch zone" around your car.
South Dakota Highway Patrol troopers are sometimes amazed when they arrive at the scene of a crash and the car is totaled but the victims have only minor injuries.
"You definitely have those head-scratchers that you wonder how they made it out of it, or how they weren't more injured than what they were," South Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Jeremy Gacke said.
The mangled and twisted metal is designed to crumple-up like an accordion, to lessen the impact on the people inside. Such a safety feature is known as a crumple zone.
"And so as metal crunches and as metal bends, plastics breaking and it sounds just horrible, it's all absorbing that energy and hopefully saving some of that so it doesn't all impact the driver or the passengers of the vehicle," Shannon Nordstrom host of the "Under the Hood Show" said.
Parts on the interior of the car are also designed to give way during a crash.
"Some of the cars even have specially engineered clips on the back sides of the plastic panels so that they will detach at a certain pressure or a certain speed so you don't end up with extra projectiles in the car," Nordstrom said.
But don't let the safety features of your car give you a false sense of security. You still need to buckle-up to keep safe in case of a crash.
"You still have got to take your own precautions as far as your seat belt and your driving habits, but they've definitely improved the safety part of the vehicle," Gacke said.
Nordstrom says if you buy a used car, you should have the underside inspected for rust because a corroded frame puts the driver and passengers in even more danger during a crash.
Find out about your car's crash test rating online.
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