Who would’ve guessed it? Holding a camera up to your face during a car crash can be quite hazardous to your health. New research by the University of Southern California and the International Cinematographer Guild has shed new light on the dangers posed by cameras in “free driving” situations.
Free driving is a practice that cinematographers use when filming in a moving car. Camera operators will typically have their cameras shoulder mounted in the passenger seat — with this setup, if a crash were to occur, the airbags pose a significant risk.
The same goes for stills photographers, as a DSLR being punched through the air by an airbag at 200 mph is not a good thing at all.
“This is a very dynamic event when the airbag deploys,” said Dr. Cynthia Bir, Director of the Center for Trauma, Violence & Injury Prevention. “It’s going to send that object on all different types of trajectories. Exactly where the camera would end up is completely random.”
The camera itself can create further impacts on both the passenger and the driver as it is randomly thrown around the vehicle in the event of a crash.
Many vehicles now come with sensors in the seats to determine how much force an airbag should be deployed with. In such cases, the added weight of a camera will cause the airbag to deploy with greater force.
“Anything unsecured in a vehicle, including a handheld camera, will act as a projectile when propelled by an exploding airbag,” said the ICG. “Always request that the camera be mounted and secured rather than handheld, as a handheld camera creates a much greater risk to everyone in the vehicle.”
Next time you’re shooting in a moving vehicle, think about the safety of both yourself and others in the car with you.