Car surfing is described as a thrill-seeking activity in which passengers of moving vehicles perform various stunts, including hanging out of the car or ‘surfing’ on the hood, trunk, or on the roof of the vehicle while it is in motion.
Car surfing is one of risky behaviors that young motorists participate in that are increasingly being video-recorded and posted on video-sharing websites like YouTube and Facebook. However these videos usually do not show the associated risk for serious injury or even death. Car surfers grossly underestimate the risk involved for serious or fatal injuries even at slow speed. Furthermore they might not consider that car surfing can lead to serious legal charges against the car surfer or vehicle driver.
Car surfing is dangerous at nearly any speed. Serious injuries and deaths have been reported in cases where vehicles were travelling as slow as 10kph to as fast as 120k h. The most dangerous thing that can happen while car surfing is falling off of the vehicle which can lead to a fatal head injury even at slow speeds. One of the key risks is sudden unanticipated manoeuvres, such as swerving or braking that can force car surfer off the vehicle.
People who fall off during the ride may suffer brain contusions, fractured skulls, neck injuries, and broken bones, loss of consciousness, internal bleeding, paralysis, and even death.
What can be done to help prevent teens from car surfing? Parents and other influential adults should be aware of car surfing and its potentially deadly consequences. Adults should talk to teens about the real risk of injury and death that car surfing poses.
The only safe way to travel in a motor vehicle is seated while wearing a seat belt.
Chief Matt Torigian Chief of Police, Waterloo Regional Police Service President – Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police