Volume 39, Issue 1 (January 1994)
Skull Fractures in Fatalities Due to Motor Vehicle Collisions
A retrospective analysis of 89 fatalities with skull fracture resulting from motor vehicle-pedestrian and various single passenger car frontal, side, rear and rollover collisions was done. Passenger compartment intrusion and occupant ejection were responsible for most, but not all, cranial fractures occurring in impacted motor vehicles. Victims of frontal collisions usually were unrestrained; however, a majority of individuals in cars hit by heavy trucks were wearing seatbelts. Vehicles involved in frontal crashes had crush profiles reflecting a barrier equivalent velocity (BEV) of at least 50 km/h (about 30/mph). In side impacts, most ejected occupants were unrestrained, whereas many of those intruded upon were belted. The minimum BEV calculated in these collisions approached 20 km/h (12 mph). The observation of a skull fracture intregrated with accident investigation (that is, determination of head contacts) was useful in the reconstruction of various collisions. Skull fracture patterns, as documented by autopsy, reflected certain kinematic trajectories described in motor vehicle-pedestrian frontal collisions.