Jabba the Hutt or future of road safety?
THE Transport Accident Commission's (TAC) latest campaign remains confronting as usual, as it introduces us to 'Graham', an alien-like simulation of what we might look like if we evolve to survive car crashes.
Graham quite literally has the 'perfect body' when it comes to surviving high-impact road accidents, despite the Jabba the Hutt-esque air sacks protecting his ribs and complete absence of a neck.
"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."
Graham was designed with a body that can withstand the forces experienced during a high-speed accident, with features like his large, thick skull intended to protect the brain far better than the skulls we have today.
The pockets of air covering his ribs absorb shock and thicker skin prevents laceration in the case of an accident involving glass or shrapnel.
One of the most vital adaptations we can see on Graham is his extremely rigid muscle-bound neck that keeps the neck and spine safe during impact.
Perhaps the most alien-like feature is the addition of an extra join in his legs and far more manoeuvrable knee joints, so that his legs can basically wind up like a pretzel without breaking.
Studies have shown that the human body can only cope with impacts at speeds people can reach on their own, unassisted by vehicles, so in other words running into a wall.
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 briefed Melbourne sculptor Patricia Piccinini to develop Graham.
"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.
The installation will be on show at the State Library of Victoria until August 8, before taking Graham on the road.