Newton's Laws of Motion in the Context of Car Crashes in Australia

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Sir Isaac Newton was an English physician from the 17th century, and he is renowned throughout the modern world for the 3 laws of motion that he created. These have been accepted in modern society as factual information, due to modern research, even though he was born in 1642. Throughout his life he created his 3 laws.

His first Law states “that an object at rest but an object with motion would keep at the same speed unless acted upon by another force”. For example, when a human throws a ball its motion gradually decreases due to the gravity of the earth's mass.

Newton's second law is the formula for F/m=A or F=ma. This formula states that force = mass x acceleration. This is the calculation for the amount of force in an object. The third-newton law states that “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. This is also known as the law of force and reaction. An example, when sitting in a chair the same force which pushes downwards pushes up or when a ball hits the floor the same force pushes it up.

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Car crashes in Australia are a common occurrence, these are usually linked to the driver being distracted or making a critical mistake. It is most common for drivers under 25 to be involved in a car accident. The younger driver is shown to be more reckless and speeds more (Grebin, B 2018). Modern cars have immensely evolved in the 1970s they have innovated new safety features such as seatbelts, airbags, traction control, and power steering. Compared to cars in the 1970s seatbelts were only just made compulsory for both the front passenger and driver and the airbags were unreliable. Older cars had bad seatbelts or none at all and newer cars are fitted with seat belts and protective airbags. A comparison can be shown through the use of Newton's 1st law. Which states an object will stay in motion unless acted upon by an unbalanced force (Hyper physics 2020). If a car from modern-day crashes into a tree the seatbelt will absorb the majority of the force/momentum which is applied stopping the passenger's inertia and holding him back. This will hold the person in the car meaning they do not go through a window. If a car from the 1970’s crashes the person will maintain the same velocity as the car moving meaning without a seat belt they can be instantly killed or seriously injured, as they have none or very limited seatbelt protection (Ancap 2020).

There are multiple reasons why cars and trucks have different speed limits on hill descents it is easily shown through Newton's 2nd law (F=ma), which suggests an object's acceleration depends on the force acting upon the object's mass. The higher the mass the more inertia an object has (Physicsclassroom 2020). The reason speed limits are different is because trucks has a higher mass so if they descend quickly it will gain inertia and will require a higher force to bring for it to decelerate its speed. being potentially dangerous because there might not be enough time to slow down. As compared to a car with lower mass meaning lower inertia, so It requires less force to bring the car to a complete stop. If the truck went the same speed as the car. It would require more force and more time to stop so that is why the speeds are different as suggested through a study by (Curious 2015).

Airbags are very essential in modern-day cars it has revolutionized cars and over the years the crumple zones of cars have improved to save the lives of the drivers and the passengers, this comparison between the 1970s and modern cars can be shown through Newtons 3rd law, which states every action has an equal and opposite reaction (Hyper physics 2020). This is evident when a car crash. A 1970's car has full metal chassis and is built to last and not crumple. This results in a higher death rate as shown by ( 2020). If a car crashes into a tree the same amount of energy being applied to the tree is being applied onto the car if the car does not crumble all the energy will be applied to the driver causing death. This is also present with airbags, old cars airbags were limited to the driver so if that car crashes the passengers will be at a very higher risk of death and possibly the driver as well, compared to newer cars with airbags all around the passenger it's a lot safer and absorbs a lot of the energy applied when the car crashes stopping the people from being crushed inside the car.

A significant change can be made to improve the future of road safety in Australia. I believe that increasing the age or duration required to get a provision license would improve everyone people's involvement in the crash and those around them, this new rule will make Australia's roads safe for all.


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  2. Curious. (2015). The physics of speeding cars. [online] Available at: [Accessed 8 May 2020].
  3. Gribbin, B. (2018). Young drivers on NSW roads the most at risk, and the most dangerous - [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
  4. Munro, A. (2017). What we learned from watching a car crash test | [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 May 2020].
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Newton’s Laws of Motion in the Context of Car Crashes in Australia. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved May 25, 2024, from
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