Summer Safety: Safety on Summer Road Trips

Objects inside cars cause an estimated 13,000 injuries every year.

ByABC News via logo
July 12, 2010, 10:04 PM

July 13, 2010 — -- Each year thousands of American families pack up the car to go on roadtrips, but many do not consider this dangerous fact: unsecured objects in your car can become projectiles in a crash.

George Clark of Wisconsin should know. He and some fellow dads were coming home from Boy Scout Leader training when another car pulled right into their path. They hit it going 50 miles per hour and the untethered child booster seat next to Clark slammed into his head, crushing his cheekbone and jaw.

"I basically had facial reconstruction," Clark said of his recovery. "In today's environment, with the airport security, I probably look like the terminator."

"Very Humpty Dumpty," his wife Lynn Clark said. "That's exactly what it must have been like for him to put all of these crushed pieces of bone back together again."

Safety Research and Strategies, an accident investigation company, estimates ordinary objects in cars are responsible for 13,000 injuries a year.

At 55 miles per hour, a 20-pound object hits with 1,000 pounds of force -- so powerful that a suitcase can literally sever the arm of a crash test dummy.

"From head impacts to serious internal injuries, it's a wide range depending on the severity of the crash," Sean Kane of Safety Research and Strategies told "GMA."

One study showed how unbelted passengers are a danger not just to themselves, but to others -- because people can become projectiles themselves.

"Even something as small as a can of peas can become dangerous," Clark said.

As for Clark, he's had multiple surgeries and racked up more than $60,000 in medical bills.

He said he wanted his story to be your cautionary tale.

If you have a summer roadtrip planned, you might want to re-think how you're going to pack the car. Here's some more advice: