Behind the wheel – inside a cage of steel fitted with airbags and sensors and safety features – we can have a tendency to think we are indestructible.
To challenge this perception, and demonstrate just how vulnerable we really are, the Transport Accident Commission has teamed up with a leading trauma surgeon, a crash investigation expert and a world-renowned Melbourne artist to produce Graham – an interactive, “lifelike” model of what we would have to look like to withstand a serious traffic accident.
Yep, Graham sure looks a little different to you and I. He has been designed with bodily features we might have if we had evolved to combat the forces involved in crashes.
Studies have shown that the human body can only cope with impacts at speeds people can reach without the help of a vehicle.
“People can survive running at full pace into a wall but when you’re talking about collisions involving vehicles, the speeds are faster, the forces are greater and the chances of survival are much slimmer,” TAC chief executive officer Joe Calafiore said.
“Cars have evolved a lot faster than humans and Graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes.”
Mr Calafiore said the “science of human vulnerability” underpinned Victoria’s new Towards Zero approach to road trauma reduction.
“We have to accept people will always make mistakes, but modern vehicle safety technology and safe road design can drastically reduce the forces involved when a crash happens, making them more survivable,” Mr Calafiore said.
Royal Melbourne Hospital trauma surgeon Christian Kenfield and Monash University Accident Research Centre crash investigator David Logan worked with Melbourne sculptor Patricia Piccinini to develop Graham.
Presented as an installation, Graham will be on show at the State Library of Victoria until August 8, before going on a roadshow of regional centres. You can also interact with Graham (this isn’t horrifying at all, nope) online.
Google’s immersive augmented reality technology, Tango, will be used to to look beneath Graham’s skin (this keeps getting worse) and better understand how his unique features would work to cushion him from serious injury in a crash.
School curriculum has also been developed for lucky school students visiting Graham in person or online who will most likely continue to be haunted by this image well into adulthood.
“Graham is an educational tool that will serve the community for years to come as a reminder of why we need to develop a safer road system that will protect us when things go wrong,” Mr Calafiore said.