You’re stopped at the corner of Dunn and Bradstreet listening to your latest empowerment tape when, out of your rear-view mirror, you spot a Seville preparing to redesign the back of your car. Quick, what should you do? Lawrence Nordhoff, Jr., D.C., accident reconstructionist and author of two texts on vehicle collisions makes the following suggestions for that split second when you see the car approaching: 1. “Tighten up and brace yourself holding on firmly to the ten o’clock and two o’clock position of the steering wheel.” The idea of remaining loose and relaxed is wrong! Contracted muscles protect the bones, discs, ligaments and nerves. 2. “Keep your wrists flat, not bent,” to prevent wrist injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome. 3. “Face forward, look straight ahead and sit squarely against the back of your seat.” Never allow passengers to bend forward in airbag-equipped cars. If you are about to be rear-ended, press your head firmly against the headrest. 4. “When stopped, keep an eye on your rear view mirror.” You have a better chance of not being injured if you’re aware of the oncoming collision. According to Dr. Nordhoff, the average person will be in a car collision once every ten years. Practice these four points upon entering your car will make them “instinctual” when the situation arises. Before the “big day” there are a few things to keep in mind. 1. “Buy Big! Size counts!” Gas economy is great for our environment and small cars look cute, but when you’re watching an S.U.V. drive into the back of your Hyundai, you’ll wish you had a Suburban. 2. Sit at least 6” from the steering wheel to avoid serious injury caused by the airbag crushing into your chest. If you’re too short, get pedal extenders. 3. The headrest must contact the area just above your ears. Most are set too low and act as karate chop when you’re struck from behind. 4. Never place the shoulder harness behind your back. This puts the stress on the lap belt causing spinal cord injuries. If you’re large breasted, use a shoulder strap cushion such as lambs wool. 5. Put a cushion on the glass in old pick-up trucks whose rear window acts as the head restraint. 6. Changed seatbelts every 10 years and after major car accidents. 7. Service and check the ABS (antilock braking system) every time you change your pads (must be requested). 8. Do not pump your ABS! This can cause your car to flip over. Just hold the brakes to the floor. It will naturally grab, grind and feel jerky but it is supposed to do this. Practice the feel of abrupt braking in a vacant lot. 9. Carry high “med pay” coverage (minimum $25,000). It’s fairly inexpensive and will free you from having to sue your insurance company to have your treatment covered. Accidents are nearly inevitable so share this information. It may lead to a more “pleasant” accident experience. When you’re injured, ALWAYS have yourself evaluated at my office so that your alignment can be returned to a healthy and normal function—not just temporarily pain-free. Often the effects of an accident don’t fully reveal themselves for months and sometimes years later (when the degenerative changes develop). We make certain to check for their signs and usually prevent them from developing.