Browse Publications Technical Papers 2020-01-0977
2020-04-14

The roles of vehicle seat cushion stiffness and length in child restraint system (CRS) performance 2020-01-0977

The objective is to determine whether responses and injury risks for pediatric occupants in child restraint systems (CRS) are affected by vehicle seat cushion stiffness and fore/aft length. Eighteen sled tests were conducted using the FMVSS 213 frontal pulse (48 km/h). Seats from a recent model year vehicle were customized by the manufacturer with three different levels of cushion stiffness: compliant, mid-range, and stiff. Each stiffness level was quantified using ASTM D 3574-08 and all were within the realistic range of modern production seats. The usable length of each seat cushion was manipulated using foam spacers provided by the manufacturer. Two different seat lengths were examined: short (34.0 cm) and long (43.5 cm). Three different types of CRS were tested with size-appropriate anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs): rear-facing (RF) CRS with 12-month-old CRABI, forward-facing (FF) CRS with Hybrid III 3-year-old, and high-back booster with Hybrid III 6-year-old. Each CRS, vehicle seat (including cushion and frame), seat belt webbing and buckle were replaced after every test. ATD kinematic and kinetic data were compared across seat cushion lengths and cushion stiffness levels to determine which seat configurations were the most beneficial for each type of CRS. For RF CRS, short vehicle seats allowed more y-axis rotation (SAE J211) but reduced several injury metrics including HIC36 and neck flexion moment. For FF CRS, short seats resulted in slightly lower neck flexion moments but did not affect most other injury metrics. For boosters, short seats increased chest resultant acceleration but did not have a noticeable effect on other injury metrics. The range of cushion stiffness examined in this study did not have a consistent or relevant effect on any of the CRS or occupant responses.

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