Two cars traveling at 60 mph collide head on. Another car crashes into a wall at 60 mph. Which one has more damage?

Asked by: Jayson Durecka


When a car crashes, you can picture its kinetic energy (energy associated with his movement) being transferred into energy that will bend metal, break plastic and also creating sound waves and heat.

If a car hits a wall, part of this kinetic energy will be transferred into damaging the car & also part of it into damaging the wall.

In the first case the two (2) cars will absorb all the energy and if the cars are the same, they will both absorb half of the kinetic energy (say E1=E2).

In the second case, the same energy E1 will now be distributed between the car and the wall, which would lead to a less damaged car.
Answered by: C. Gilles Lalancette, M.Sc. Physics