Field Accident Data Analysis of 2nd Row Children and Individual Case Reviews 2008-01-1851
Child safety is an important issue. The objective of this study was to analyze field accident data for 0-7 year old children in the 2nd row by vehicle and crash type, irrespective of restraint use. The data was obtained from NASS-CDS for calendar years 1991-2005. Accidents were selected based on 2nd row occupancy in towaway light vehicles with model year 1990 or newer. Side impacts caused 30.9% of serious-to-fatal injury (MAIS 3+F) to 2nd row children followed by frontal impacts (29.8%), rollovers (24.4%) and rear crashes (15.0%). The highest risk for MAIS 3+F was in rollovers (2.8 ± 0.7%) followed by rear (1.4 ± 0.4%), side (1.0 ± 0.2%) and frontal (0.46 ± 0.10%) crashes. The differences are statistically significant (p <0.01).
Individual rear and frontal impact cases were also reviewed to better understand injury mechanisms of children in the 2nd row. The cases were obtained from the 1997-2005 NASS-CDS electronic database. Rear impact cases were chosen based on serious-to-fatal injury (MAIS 3+F). There were 19 injured children involved in 16 rear impact crashes. 13 (68.4%) injuries were associated with ≥12″ intrusion of their seating area, which pushed the child forward. There was only one child (5.3%) who was injured by rearward rotation of the front seatback. Frontal impact cases were selected by MAIS 3+F injury to the head or spine. There were 28 injured children in 26 frontal impact crashes. Children were most commonly injured by contact with the seatback, B-pillar or other structures in front of them (46.4%) or the child seat (21.4%).
The results of this study suggest that stiffening front seats is not a reasonable approach to improving safety of 2nd row seated children. Limiting head excursion and shielding the upper body from forces on the child seems more appropriate. The idea of a wrap-around shield integrated with the child seat may have merit in the most severe crashes where the 2nd row child is injured by intrusion pushing the child forward into the front seatback in rear impacts or the child displacing forward contacting the front seatback or B-pillar in frontal crashes.