Forward or backward

| Travel

There are basically two ways to be seated while travelling on the public transportation: either you are facing forward or you are facing backward. The question that I have been pondering lately is which of the two possibilities is the safest?

Suppose that there is a head-on collision and the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop.

If you are facing forward you will be launched into the air and proceed at the same velocity until some obstacle gets in your way and brings you to a crashing halt, the front wall of the coupe for example. The further back you are sitting, the further you will have to fly and the greater the chances that your flight path will intersect with the trajectory of someone or something else along the way.

However, if you are sitting the other way around, then the back of the seat will (hopefully) prevent you from becoming hurled into flight. The only immediate dangers are the people and objects sitting down across from you, because they will be launched at a high velocity and head your way before you realize it.

Unless of course you are seated at the very back which means that there will be fewer loose objects and folks flying your way. In theory you would see them coming, so if your reflexes are quick enough then you could (hopefully) avoid impact by bending to the left or to the right. This could be a problem if because of the momentum you are pressed too tightly in the seat to be able to move.

Now let's think of the other possibility. If instead of a head-on collision there were a collision from behind, then I guess alot of the arguments above are reversed. One can only assume that one or the other (head on or from behind) is more likely to occur, before making a decision concerning the safest way to sit.

(A scientific study would more than likely reveal that the chance of a head on collision taking place is greater than a collision from behind, because most accidents (excluding derailments) are between two trains: train one colliding from behind into train two, trains one and two colliding head on, and finally train two colliding from behind into train one. That's a ratio of 4 head ons to 2 collisions from behind, e.g. a two-to-one chance for a head on collision to occur.)

I go with the head-on theory and if possible sit with my back facing the direction of travel. Although many people feel that this is an unnatural way to be transported, for me it makes more logical sense. Instinct makes me want to increase my chances of survival.

If I ever get swiped from either side then I will just have to hope and pray, if the instant in time allows such pre-medidated actions to result in meaningful ways to protect oneself before some form of bodily impact takes place.

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This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

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Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

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