• forensic science;
  • automobile;
  • motor vehicle collision;
  • horse;
  • fence;
  • plank;
  • injury;
  • rural

Abstract:  The wooden plank fence presents a deadly but unrecognized hazard to motorists. We hypothesize that fence plank injury is prevalent and results in significant morbidity and mortality. Databases of the University of Kentucky’s Level I Trauma Center and the Fayette County Coroner were retrospectively analyzed over a 12-year period (1995–2006). One hundred and twenty-eight subjects were involved in vehicle contact with wooden plank fences. One hundred and twenty-three subjects were evaluated at the Emergency Department of our trauma center; 35 (27%) had a patient–plank interaction (PPI). Men (30/35) were more frequently involved (86%), and average age was 32.8 years. Thirty-two (91%) were drivers; 14/35 (40%) died from PPI-related injuries. The most common cause of death was blunt head trauma in 13 of these 14 fatally injured subjects (93%). This study provides new data underscoring the frequency, lethality, and economic consequences of this injury mechanism. Further research is needed to quantify the national prevalence of this problem and develop injury-mitigating strategies pertaining to roadway or fence design.