Field Data Analysis of Rear Occupant Injuries Part II: Children, Toddlers and Infants 2003-01-0154
Child safety continues to be an important issue in automotive safety for many reasons, including reported cases of serious injury from airbag deployments. As a result of extensive public education campaigns, most children are now placed in rear seats of vehicles. Accordingly, a more precise understanding of rear-seat occupant protection is developing as the second and third rows have become the primary seating area for children in SUVs, vans and passenger cars.
The objective of this study was to review field crash and injury data from rear seats, identify the distribution of children and infants in rear seats, and analyze injury risks in various crash modes. The database used was the 1991-1999 NASS-CDS.
When looking at crash configurations for 1st and 2nd row children, rollover crashes involved the highest incidence of MAIS 3+ injury, followed by frontal and side impacts. Lap-shoulder belt usage was similar for 1st and 2nd row children. For lap-shoulder belted children aged 4-12 in the rear seat, the leading MAIS 3+ injuries in frontal crashes are to the upper extremities (33%) and head (30%). The source of injury is typically contact with the seatback, head restraint or interior. Lower extremity injury (20%) is generally due to B-pillar or seatback contact. For unbelted children, the leading injuries are to the head (50%) and upper extremity (29%); and, the sources of injury include the seatback, B-pillar and interior contact.
74% of infants and children 0-3 years old that are exposed to tow away crashes are in the 2nd row as compared to 22% in the front passenger seat and 4% in other positions. The rate of serious injury is 1.1% in the 2nd row and 1.2% in the front passenger seat; thus, the rate is statistically similar (p < 0.10). Unbelted 0-3 year old children have a 5.8 times greater risk of serious injury than those restrained in a child seat. There are too few cases of vehicle crashes with airbags available to assess relative risk differences between front and 2nd row seating of 0-3 year old children. Based on the most frequent injuries by restraint use and crash type, a series of safety areas are identified that may help improve protection for children and others in the rear seating zone.