Sunday, Feb. 16, a 7-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy were killed in a rollover accident on the Southwest Side.
The kids were thrown from the vehicle, although the police report does not specify whether they went through the windshield or another window.
University Hospital ER Dr. Andrew Muck said passengers who are ejected from vehicles often suffer the most serious injuries.
"Once you leave that vehicle, the damage we see in the ER, that's where we see the major bone fractures, the severe head injury, the gruesome stuff, the real dramatic injuries and people with internal organ damage," said Muck.
Statistics show more drivers and passengers are thrown out the side and rear windows of an automobile than through the windshield.
One reason for this is that side and rear windows are made out of tempered glass, or glass that is designed to crumble into granular chunks instead of splintering into jagged shards.
Conversely, windshields are made from safety glass which is layered with plastic to help prevent both shattering and puncturing.
"You get the starring because there is actually plastic laminate on both sides of your windshield that prevent the glass from just coming apart and that prevents you from usually going out of the vehicle or the glass going into your face," Muck said.
The windshield is the only window required to be made from safety glass.
According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Study, if all vehicular windows were made of safety glass, it is believed that up to 1,300 fatalities could be prevented every year.
A NHTSA report on fatalities by ejection path reveals a far greater number of passengers and drivers are thrown through a side or rear window as opposed to the windshield.
In 2010, 122 fatal windshield ejections were reported, compared to 1,059 side or rear window ejections.
In 2011, 126 people went through the windshield where as 1,062 people through a side or rear window.
"If we are losing people at the record you have cited here, I think that is something we need to look at in the next transportation bill," said Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee John Mica.
Depending on the make and model of your vehicle, you may be able to purchase aftermarket safety glass on your side and rear windows.
Dr. Muck explained whether you have safety glass or not, you can and should always wear your seat belt, because it too can keep you from being thrown out the window.
Research has shown that neck injuries can result when a person's head hits the glass without being able to pass through it.
In a 2002 report, NHTSA cited both cost and a concern about neck injuries as reasons why they would focus on increased safety measures with regard to side curtain airbags, rather than requiring safety glass on side windows.
To see the full report, click here.