Editor, UBM

July 22, 2016

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Graham: the new, misshapen face of road safety in Australia

Graham's head

Meet Graham… the new face of Australian road safety

An artist in Australia has created ‘Graham‘, the new face of Australian road safety.

With his misshapen head, lumpy chest and elongated, hoof like feet, ‘Graham‘ is what a human might look like if we had evolved to survive car crashes.

Patricia Piccinini was commissioned to make the sculpture as part of an Australian road safety campaign with the Transport Accident Commission (TAC).

She worked with Christian Kenfield a leading trauma surgeon at Melbourne Hospital and David Logan, a road crash investigation expert from Monash University Accident Research Centre to create the perfect body to survive the impact of a car crash.

Graham’s has no neck, a prominent forehead, and sunken eyes and nose. He also has air bags between each rib and limbs that have the ability to bend in all directions.

Graham's ribs

Graham’s ribs have airbags in between each rib to protect vital organs from the impact of a crash


Mr Kenfield said: “The head has a much bigger skull, so it acts like a bicycle helmet. He has no neck and no cervical spine that can be fractured in a whiplash injury. The ribs are ‘super ribs’ absorbing much more of the force.”

TAC chief executive, Joe Calafiore said: “People can survive running at full pace into a wall, but when you’re talking about collisions involving vehicles, the speeds are faster, the forces are greater and the chances of survival are much slimmer.

“Graham helps us understand why we need to improve every aspect of our roads system to protect ourselves from our own mistakes.”

In discussing part of her design Piccinini said: “From my discussions, I learn that the neck was a real problem. So I just got rid of it.”

In doing this, she has sacrificed his mobility to make his head more resilient to injury in a crash.

Graham has also been designed to have much thicker and tougher skin to help shield him and reduce abrasions and road rash. This is particularly important for cyclists and motorcyclists.

His feet have been made into elongated, strong, hoof-like legs with added joints that allow him to jump out of the way quickly in a ‘spring-loaded’ fashion.

Graham's feet

Graham’s feet are like hooves, enabling him to jump out of the way in a spring-loaded fashion

Graham is currently being exhibited in the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, after which he will go on a tour of the state of Victoria – Australia’s most densely-populated state.

Meet Graham and find out more about how he’s been designed to withstand low impact crashes.

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Mark Ainge
Mark Ainge
7 years ago

Very thought provoking!!

powerful image and the explanation of ‘why’ Graham has evolved appears to be a very emotionally intelligent way to make us think differently about road safety and our own mortality.

Look forward to reading and hearing more about this and the feedback from others,

Nic Carstens
Nic Carstens
7 years ago

Amazing stuff, I had to share the link with everyone. A rare article that really makes you stop and think. A huge thank you!!