Skip
Current Issue
This Month's Print Issue

Follow Fast Company

We’ll come to you.

2 minute read

Meet Graham, The Human Designed To Survive Car Crashes

If you want to be safe while driving, you're going to have to look like this guy.

  • <p>The hypothetical human was designed in Melbourne, Australia, to draw attention to road safety.</p>
  • <p>Graham has extra-thick ribs, to absorb more of the force from our seat belts during a crash.</p>
  • <p>And between those ribs are airbag-like sacks to further absorb shock.</p>
  • <p>Graham’s knees are designed to bend in all directions.</p>
  • <p>When a pedestrian is hit by a car, their knees usually snap first, because the joint can only bend one way.</p>
  • <p>Graham’s knees can give when hit, and he has extra tendons for more flexibility.</p>
  • <p>Graham’s skull is more like a helmet, with an inner and outer layer separated by chambers that are designed to collapse.</p>
  • <p>The face, too, is better protected, with the nose, ears, and eyes recessed, and lots of extra fatty tissue.</p>
  • 01 /08

    The hypothetical human was designed in Melbourne, Australia, to draw attention to road safety.

  • 02 /08

    Graham has extra-thick ribs, to absorb more of the force from our seat belts during a crash.

  • 03 /08

    And between those ribs are airbag-like sacks to further absorb shock.

  • 04 /08

    Graham’s knees are designed to bend in all directions.

  • 05 /08

    When a pedestrian is hit by a car, their knees usually snap first, because the joint can only bend one way.

  • 06 /08

    Graham’s knees can give when hit, and he has extra tendons for more flexibility.

  • 07 /08

    Graham’s skull is more like a helmet, with an inner and outer layer separated by chambers that are designed to collapse.

  • 08 /08

    The face, too, is better protected, with the nose, ears, and eyes recessed, and lots of extra fatty tissue.

This is Graham. He might not be much to look at, but he’s the only person on Earth who can survive a high-speed car crash. The hypothetical human was designed in Melbourne, Australia, to draw attention to road safety.

"Cars have evolved a lot faster than humans," said the Australia’s Transport Accident Commission’s (TAC) Joe Calafiore in a press release, somewhat misunderstanding evolution, "and Graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes."

Graham is a collaboration between TAC, a trauma surgeon, and Melbourne-based sculptor Patricia Piccinini. He’s designed to be an educational tool, and has his own website. Not only can you use some pretty fancy tools to examine Graham’s body inside and out, but there are also a whole lot of facts about the safety features of modern cars, and how the body reacts in crashes.

For instance, did you know that our rib cage, which is there to protect our organs, is a great energy absorber? Or that the three-point seat belt we all know well was designed to exploit this property? "It loads the centre of your chest, spreading the force over the ribcage until the ribs break when the force becomes too great," says the site. That’s why Graham has extra-thick ribs, and between those ribs are airbag-like sacks to further absorb shock.

Graham’s knees are designed to bend in all directions. When a pedestrian is hit by a car, their knees usually snap first, because the joint can only bend one way. Graham’s knees can give when hit, and he has extra tendons for more flexibility.

And as you’d imagine, the head gets a lot of attention. Graham’s skull is more like a helmet, with an inner and outer layer separated by chambers that are designed to collapse. It will make a mess, but at least the brain will be protected. The face, too, is better protected, with the nose, ears, and eyes recessed, and lots of extra fatty tissue. In fact, it looks a lot like Graham has already experienced a pretty good whack to the kisser.

As an educational tool, Graham is a mixture of horrifying and fascinating, which is just about the perfect way to get people interested. And if you like to be horrified, it’s worth taking a look at the whole site, because you can mouse over the images and see under Graham’s skin, into his skeleton and internal organs. The detail is incredible.

It’s almost enough to stop you climbing into your car. Which would be a pretty good outcome.

Have something to say about this article? You can email us and let us know. If it's interesting and thoughtful, we may publish your response.

[All Photos: via Transport Accident Commission]

loading