Why are Some People Knocked out of their Shoes When Hit by a Car?

Have you ever heard or read about someone being hit by a car and, among the many shocking details, being “knocked out of their shoes”? This description seems strange and perplexing to many, but it’s an occurrence that has been reported in numerous accidents. Why does this happen? In this post, we delve into the science behind this phenomenon and unravel the mysteries behind it.

Why are Some People Knocked out of their Shoes When Hit by a Car?

When a pedestrian is hit by a car, the immense force and sudden impact can cause different parts of the body to move at varied rates. Shoes, especially loosely-fit ones or those with smoother soles, can’t grip the foot against such force. As the body is propelled, feet may slip out of the shoes due to differential motion and momentum.

Basic Physics of ImpactThe force from the car transfers to the pedestrian, causing differential motion in the body.
Human Body ResponseDifferent densities and elasticities in our body mean parts can move or react at varied rates.
Shoes’ GripLoosely-fit shoes or those with smooth soles may not provide a strong grip during sudden impact.
Feet PositionIf a foot is raised or mid-step during collision, it can lead to a rotational motion out of the shoe.
Modern Shoe DesignSome fashion-forward shoes prioritize style over grip, leading to easier displacement upon impact.
Momentum DifferenceThe car’s momentum propels the body forward rapidly, while shoes may stay momentarily due to friction.
Ground SurfaceWet or smooth surfaces reduce friction between shoes and ground, increasing chances of shoe displacement.

1. The Basic Physics of Impact:

To understand the phenomenon of a person being knocked out of their shoes, it’s essential to consider the basic laws of physics. Sir Isaac Newton’s Third Law of Motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. When a car strikes a pedestrian, the force of the car is transferred to the person. Depending on the speed and size of the vehicle, this force can be immense.

2. The Human Body’s Response to Sudden Force:

Our bodies are not rigid structures. They comprise bones, muscles, organs, and fluids, all with different densities and elasticities. When struck by a vehicle, different parts of the body can move or react at different rates. This can create a shearing or differential motion between body parts, especially between more rigid parts (like bones) and softer parts (like flesh or clothing).

3. The Shoes’ Role:

Shoes, especially those tied tightly or with a snug fit, grip our feet well under normal conditions. However, the sudden and enormous force from a car collision can overwhelm the friction and fit of the shoe, causing the foot to slip out. This is particularly true for shoes with smoother soles or those that aren’t laced tightly.

4. Feet Elevation during Impact:

Another aspect to consider is the position of the feet at the time of impact. If a pedestrian is mid-step or has one foot raised slightly when hit, the force of the car can create a rotational motion. This torque can whip the foot out of the shoe, especially if the shoe doesn’t have a firm grip on the foot.

5. The Nature of Modern Shoes:

With the rise of fashion trends and the increasing variety of shoe types, many modern shoes prioritize style over function. These shoes may not have the same tight grip on the foot as, say, athletic shoes. High heels, flip-flops, loafers, and other such designs can easily be displaced from the foot upon a forceful impact.

6. The Role of Momentum:

The difference in momentum between the pedestrian and the car is substantial. A car moving at even relatively low speeds carries significant momentum. When it collides with a pedestrian, the person’s body is propelled forward rapidly, but the shoes might remain in place momentarily due to friction with the ground. This can cause the feet to slip out of the shoes.

7. Ground Surface Matters:

The type of ground on which the pedestrian stands plays a role too. Wet, slippery, or smooth surfaces can reduce the friction between the shoe’s sole and the ground. As a result, the shoe remains stationary or slides differently than the body, making it easier for the foot to slip out.

What happens to the body when hit by a car?

When a person is hit by a car, a myriad of potential injuries and reactions can occur, both immediately and over time. The specific effects depend on numerous factors, including the speed of the car, the angle of impact, the area of the body that is first hit, and the overall health of the individual. Here’s a breakdown of what can happen:

1. Initial Impact:

  • Bone Fractures: The sudden force exerted by the car can lead to broken or fractured bones. Commonly affected areas include the legs, pelvis, ribs, arms, and skull.
  • Soft Tissue Damage: Muscles, ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues can be strained, sprained, or torn. Bruising is also common due to ruptured blood vessels.
  • Skin Injuries: Abrasions, lacerations, and road rash can occur as the body is thrown or dragged across the pavement.

2. Secondary Impact:

This refers to the secondary injuries that occur when a person’s body hits the ground or another object after the initial collision.

  • Head Injuries: Traumatic brain injuries, including concussions or more severe injuries, can happen if the head strikes the ground, car, or any other hard surface.
  • Spinal Injuries: The impact can cause whiplash, disc herniation, or even spinal cord injuries, potentially leading to paralysis.
  • Internal Injuries: Organs such as the lungs, liver, kidneys, or spleen can be punctured or bruised. Internal bleeding may also occur.

3. Long-term Effects:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Psychological trauma can arise from such a life-threatening event. This may manifest as nightmares, flashbacks, or an intense fear of roads and vehicles.
  • Chronic Pain: Areas that sustain injury, especially the neck and back, might experience lingering pain.
  • Mobility Issues: Depending on the severity of the injuries, especially to the legs, hips, or spine, a person might have long-term or permanent mobility challenges.

4. Systemic Response:

  • Shock: The body can go into shock due to trauma and significant blood loss. Symptoms include clammy skin, rapid heartbeat, and shallow breathing.
  • Inflammation: The body’s immune response can cause swelling and inflammation at injury sites.

Factors Influencing Severity:

  • Speed and Size of the Vehicle: A higher speed or larger vehicle typically inflicts more damage.
  • Point of Impact: Whether the car hits the pedestrian head-on, from the side, or from behind can determine the type of injuries sustained.
  • Position of the Person: If a person sees the car coming and braces for impact or is thrown in a certain way, it can influence injury outcomes.

In any scenario involving a pedestrian-car collision, immediate medical attention is crucial, even if there seem to be no apparent injuries. Some internal injuries might not present immediate symptoms but can be life-threatening if left untreated.

Can you be knocked unconscious from a car accident?

Yes, you can be knocked unconscious from a car accident. Here’s a brief explanation of why and how it can occur:

1. Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): When a car accident occurs, the sudden and forceful impact can cause the occupants of the vehicle to be thrown forward, backward, or sideways. Even if an airbag deploys or the person is wearing a seatbelt, the rapid deceleration or change in movement can cause the brain to move inside the skull. This movement can result in the brain colliding with the inner walls of the skull, leading to a traumatic brain injury.

2. Concussion: A concussion is a type of TBI and is one of the most common injuries that can cause unconsciousness in a car accident. The severity of a concussion can vary, with some people remaining conscious but feeling dazed, while others lose consciousness entirely.

3. Impact to the Head: Direct blows to the head, such as hitting the steering wheel, dashboard, side window, or even an airbag with great force, can result in unconsciousness. This type of impact can lead to contusions or bruising of the brain tissue.

4. Oxygen Deprivation: In more severe accidents, especially if there’s significant trauma to the chest or neck or if the person is trapped, there might be a decrease in oxygen supply to the brain. Reduced oxygen can quickly lead to unconsciousness.

5. Other Factors: Secondary effects of the accident, such as shock or a surge of adrenaline, can sometimes lead to a brief blackout or fainting spell, although this is less common than direct trauma-induced unconsciousness.

It’s crucial to note that any loss of consciousness, even if brief, after a car accident should be taken seriously. It is an indicator of a traumatic brain injury, which can have long-term consequences if not properly diagnosed and treated. Always seek medical attention after an accident, especially if there’s any head trauma or loss of consciousness involved.

Can being hit by a car cause trauma?

Yes, being hit by a car can cause trauma both physically and psychologically. Physically, victims might suffer from injuries like fractures, internal damage, or concussions. Psychologically, the event can lead to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, or phobias related to roads and vehicles. Both aspects of trauma require prompt medical and therapeutic attention.

Yes, being hit by a car can cause trauma in multiple dimensions:

1. Physical Trauma:

  • Head and Brain Injuries: Concussions, contusions, and traumatic brain injuries are common.
  • Bone Fractures: Limbs, pelvis, ribs, and skull might be broken or fractured.
  • Internal Injuries: Organs like the lungs, liver, kidneys, or spleen can get punctured, bruised, or damaged.
  • Soft Tissue Injuries: Sprains, strains, and tears in muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Spinal Injuries: Including whiplash, disc herniation, and potential paralysis due to spinal cord damage.
  • Cuts and Abrasions: From being thrown onto the ground or against objects.

2. Psychological Trauma:

  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Symptoms might include flashbacks, nightmares, severe anxiety, and uncontrollable thoughts about the accident.
  • Acute Stress Reaction: Intense, often overwhelming reaction to a traumatic event, which can include confusion, disorientation, or difficulty sleeping.
  • Phobias and Anxiety: Some develop a fear of cars, roads, or crossing streets.
  • Depression: Feelings of hopelessness, guilt, or persistent sadness after the accident.
  • Survivor’s Guilt: Especially if someone else was injured or killed in the accident and the survivor feels responsible.

3. Emotional Trauma:

  • Grief and Loss: Especially if there are long-term physical consequences or if the victim loses the ability to do activities they once loved.
  • Anger: Directed towards the driver, the circumstances, or even themselves for being in that situation.
  • Isolation: Feeling alone in their recovery or like others can’t understand their experience.

For anyone who’s been hit by a car or experienced a similar traumatic event, it’s essential to seek medical attention immediately for physical injuries. Additionally, consulting with a mental health professional can be beneficial to address any psychological or emotional trauma that may arise.


What happens to the body when hit by a car? When a person is hit by a car, the impact can cause a range of injuries, depending on factors such as the speed of the car, the point of impact, and the body’s position at the time of the collision. The body may be thrown in the direction of the car’s motion, or in some cases, it might be dragged or pinned under the vehicle.

Can you be knocked unconscious from a car accident? Yes, it is possible to be knocked unconscious from a car accident. The force of the impact can cause a sudden and severe jolt to the head, leading to loss of consciousness.

What are typical injuries from being hit by a car? Typical injuries from being hit by a car can include broken bones, head injuries (such as concussions or traumatic brain injuries), internal organ damage, spinal injuries, cuts, bruises, and abrasions.

Can being hit by a car cause trauma? Yes, being hit by a car can cause physical trauma due to the impact itself, but it can also lead to psychological trauma, especially if the person experiences intense fear, helplessness, or witnesses a severe injury or death.

How does a body get ejected from a car? During a car accident, if the vehicle comes to a sudden stop, and the person is not wearing a seatbelt or improperly restrained, the inertia can cause the person’s body to continue moving forward, leading to ejection from the car through the windshield or side windows.

What is it called when a car hits a person? When a car hits a person, it is often referred to as a pedestrian accident or pedestrian collision.

How long does the average person stay unconscious after being knocked out? The duration of unconsciousness can vary depending on the severity of the head injury. In some cases, a person may regain consciousness within a few seconds or minutes, while others may remain unconscious for a longer period or until medical attention is provided.

Do you still breathe when knocked unconscious? Yes, a person who is knocked unconscious will continue to breathe. Unconsciousness usually affects the level of responsiveness and awareness, but basic bodily functions, like breathing and circulation, continue.

Why are people unconscious after car accidents? People can be unconscious after car accidents due to the sudden impact causing the brain to move within the skull, resulting in a concussion or temporary loss of consciousness.

What happens to your body in a high-speed crash? In a high-speed crash, the forces involved are much greater, leading to more severe injuries. The body can experience more significant trauma, including multiple fractures, internal bleeding, and damage to vital organs.

What happens if you get hit by a car at 50 mph? Being hit by a car at 50 mph can cause life-threatening injuries or even be fatal. The impact forces are substantial, leading to severe trauma to the body.

Would I feel it if I hit a car? Yes, you would likely feel the impact if you hit a car. Collisions, even at low speeds, can produce a jolt and sudden deceleration, causing your body to experience the force of the impact.

How much brain damage does getting knocked out cause? The brain damage resulting from being knocked out can vary. In many cases, people recover fully from a brief loss of consciousness (mild concussion). However, more severe knockouts or repeated concussions can lead to more significant and long-term brain damage.

What are the side effects of being knocked unconscious? Side effects of being knocked unconscious can include headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, fatigue, mood changes, and difficulty concentrating. In severe cases, there can be long-term cognitive and neurological issues.

How much pressure does it take to knock someone unconscious? The amount of pressure required to knock someone unconscious can vary significantly and is not solely determined by pressure. The angle, velocity, and point of impact are crucial factors. Loss of consciousness is more related to the sudden acceleration or deceleration of the brain within the skull.

Who gets hurt the most in a car accident? In car accidents, occupants who are not wearing seatbelts are at a significantly higher risk of injury or death. Additionally, pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists are more vulnerable to severe injuries compared to those inside a car with proper restraints.

Do you feel pain after a car accident? Yes, it’s possible to feel pain after a car accident, especially if you sustain injuries. Pain may not be immediately apparent due to shock or adrenaline, but it can develop afterward.

How long does it take to recover from getting hit by a car? The recovery time from getting hit by a car varies depending on the severity of injuries. Minor injuries may heal within weeks, while more severe injuries could take months or even years to recover fully, and some injuries may cause long-term or permanent effects.

What are the emotions after a car accident? After a car accident, people may experience a range of emotions, including shock, fear, anxiety, guilt, anger, and sadness. It is not uncommon to have feelings of vulnerability or aversion to driving again.

What does PTSD from a car accident look like? Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from a car accident can manifest as recurring and distressing memories or nightmares of the event, avoidance of driving or places associated with the accident, heightened anxiety while driving, hypervigilance on the road, and emotional numbness.

How do you know if you are traumatized? Feeling overwhelmed, experiencing intrusive thoughts or memories of the traumatic event, having difficulty sleeping, avoiding situations or reminders related to the trauma, and feeling on edge are some signs of being traumatized.

What is true about being ejected from a car during a crash? Being ejected from a car during a crash significantly increases the risk of severe injury or death. Ejected individuals are vulnerable to direct impact with the road or other objects, leading to more extensive trauma.

What happens to internal organs in a car crash? During a car crash, internal organs can experience significant forces that may cause injuries such as internal bleeding, lacerations, and organ ruptures.

What happens to your chest in a car accident? The chest can experience blunt force trauma in a car accident, leading to injuries like rib fractures, lung contusions, and damage to internal organs.

What is it called when someone gets hit by a car and dies? When someone gets hit by a car and dies as a result, it is called a fatal pedestrian accident.

What is the most common type of car accident? Rear-end collisions are one of the most common types of car accidents. They occur when one vehicle strikes the back of the vehicle in front of it.

What is it called when a car hits the back of your car? When a car hits the back of your car, it is referred to as a rear-end collision.


The phenomenon of being “knocked out of one’s shoes” in an accident is a blend of physics, the human body’s structure, shoe design, and environmental factors. While it might seem like a bizarre occurrence, it can be explained through the science of force and motion.

It serves as a grim reminder of the tremendous force involved in vehicle-pedestrian accidents and underscores the importance of road safety for both drivers and pedestrians. Always exercise caution and be aware of your surroundings, whether you’re behind the wheel or on foot.