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In the beginning of Zombieland, people are running from an apocalypse of zombies.

In one of the attacks, a little girl's birthday party has just gone psycho and is suddenly overrun with zombies. All the little girls transform into zombies. A woman is trying to escape in her car and just as the zombie girls are banging on the glass eager to get to the woman, she pulls away into the road.

One of the zombie survival rules in the movie is, "Always wear your seat belt" and the woman disobeys this rule.

At an intersection, she is glad to have outrun the zombie girls only to smash into a tow truck and to fly out of the wind screen and die sliding across the road in front of her.

HOW does she fly out of the car like that?

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    That's what happens if you don't wear a seatbelt and your car gets in a wreck... – Catija Apr 3 '17 at 4:22
  • You don't fly out of the car like that no one ever has done so like that before, because your feet are stuck in the pedal area to control the car and you'd have to curl yourself to get out? otherwise, you would just smack into the steering wheel. – natural Apr 3 '17 at 4:24
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    It's a comedic film... they exaggerate things. – Catija Apr 3 '17 at 4:26
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    Is this a question about how it's physically possible or how they make that appear to happen when making a movie? – Todd Wilcox Apr 3 '17 at 6:06
  • msn.com/en-au/news/photos/… < although the driver doesn't end up completely through the windscreen, it shows it might be possible if the impact is at high enough speed. – HorusKol Apr 3 '17 at 6:33
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Clearly, the film makers have constructed images which contravene the physical laws of the world we actually live in. They have done so for comedic effect. They have done so in service of the narrative which asserts a taboo of not wearing seat belts. The seat belt rule set up in the beginning of the film comes back later and again, we see a body flying through the windshield:

In this instance, it makes a little more "real world sense" that the zombie in the back seat flies forward through the windshield, but again: comedic effect, and the comedic effect of repetition. In both cases, the visual effect is affective when audiences suspend their disbelief. We're already not questioning a world where zombies are real, so "how" she flew out the window like that is simply the magic of movies, no?

The audience is sympathetic to the woman because obviously she was in shock. While she is momentarily distracted by her dashboard bobbleheads (a symbolic reminder of a safe, suburban lifestyle that has now been shattered) the driver was likely not paying attention to how heavy her foot was on the accelerator. In her distraction, she doesn't notice the cross traffic and by the time of the impact, her rule breaking negligence of seat belt use renders her a car crash projectile. Truly a tragi-comic demise, but such is cinematic hyperbole.

Tho U.S. cars have required air bags since 1998, there also appears to have been no airbag to prevent her from launching through the windshield. Who knows - it may have been an older model, but it looks of the movie's era when Zombieland came out in 2009. The van in the movie has had make and model identifications removed, however, frontal collision tests with similar models from 2009 clearly show the likelihood of the driver's body slamming down upon the steering wheel:

("Naturally", I presume you'll appreciate the clip is regarding the Australasian New Car Assessment Program).

This video also shows what the driver's body is likely to do in a car crash when the driver is without a seatbelt:

Culturally, the U.S. has a long history of "shocking" movie audiences with films like "Blood on the Windscreen" and "Mechanized Death" to drive home the point of safe driving. These films are still shown to this day in Driver's Education classes (often assigned by the courts to those who have violated traffic laws). Perhaps the joke simply plays better to an audience predisposed to imagining all sorts of terrible consequences to unsafe driving practices?

All that said, in real life and at high speeds, car crashes are very unpredictable, so do always wear your seatbelt. In case you are tempted to drive without seatbelt or airbags, here's a crash test dummy example of what is likely to happen in a head on collision. Note that it would be awful, but without any other directional momentum, you are unlikely to fly through the windshield:

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – Ankit Sharma Apr 4 '17 at 12:43
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    +1 for your opening paragraph, which I would agree answers the question. Combining suspension of disbelief/foreshadowing/comedic effect makes perfect sense.. especially in a film about a zombie outbreak that has taken over the world. – Longshanks Apr 4 '17 at 13:33
  • Very good answer, it pretty much answers it :). – natural Apr 5 '17 at 1:31
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    It would only be sense to upvote Mr.Kennedy's post becuase it is well structured, got good evidence and obviously done plenty of research. So well done of answering it in that way. +1 mate, good job. – natural Apr 5 '17 at 1:32
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Though this scene kinda contradicts physics, anything can happen when a car smashes into a truck at that speed and especially when driver is not restrained by a seat belt.

According to Newton's first law of motion

An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

When we apply the brake, the car and stuff attached to the car also stops with the car. The passenger inside is not attached firmly to the car. The lower portion of the passenger attached to the seat would stop and his upper portion would continue in motion due to inertia. (Source)

Following that law and given that car was going at very high speed, this may be the reason why she flew out of the car. I can also say this thing based on the accident I saw IRL.

  • I have tried to explain it a bit. – A J Apr 3 '17 at 7:01
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    That looks better, but the driver in the question isn't wearing a seat belt so she isn't "attached to seat". In this crash test video you see the unrestrained dummies moving forward in the exact same posture until their legs hit the dashboard or the seat in front of them, which of course could lead to the upper body pivoting through the windshield. – Moyli Apr 3 '17 at 7:26

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