Effects of Assistive Steering Devices on Air Bag Deployment 960223

The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of attaching a steering control device to the steering wheel on the deployment of an air bag mounted in the hub of the steering wheel. A steering control device is mounted on the steering wheel rim, is easier to grip than the wheel itself, and allows the wheel to be turned with a pushing motion. These devices are used by persons with disabilities ranging from reduced strength to quadriplegia. Static deployment tests were used to gauge the behavior of an air bag in the presence of seven different steering control devices.
The results of testing on these seven steering control devices and two seating positions lead to several conclusions
  • Mounting a device on the steering wheel should not be accomplished via a mechanism which crosses over the air bag
  • The driver should sit as close to the design seating position as possible
  • The tri-pin device seems to reduce the ability of the air bag to deploy properly and may cause injury to the hand during air bag deployment. Whether this risk of injury is great enough to recommend removal of the air bag is not known
  • The post grip is preferable to the U-grip from an air bag safety stand point. The post grip seems to have less effect on air bag performance and driver hand movement
  • The post, spinner knob, and amputee ring devices appear to affect the deployment of the air bag very little
  • It appears that the smaller the device, and the lower it is to the wheel, the less it will affect air bag deployment
  • None of the steering control devices tested punctured or tore the air bag


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