1996-02-01

Improving Occupant Protection Systems in Frontal Crashes 960665

In the United States, air bags will be required in all passenger cars and light trucks under Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 208, Occupant Crash Protection. Even after full implementation of driver and passenger air bags as required by FMVSS No. 208, frontal impacts will still account for up to 8,000 fatalities and 120,000 moderate to critical injuries (i.e., injuries of AIS ≥ 2) [1]. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has an ongoing research program to address these fatalities and injuries and provide a basis for the possible future upgrade of FMVSS No. 208. This effort includes developing supplementary test procedures for the evaluation of occupant injury in higher severity crashes, developing improved injury criteria including criteria for assessing injuries to additional body regions, and evaluating the injuries associated with occupant size [2, 3 and 4].More recently, in monitoring the fleet performance of current air bag systems, NHTSA has identified aggressive air bag deployment as a potential cause of injuries and fatalities of occupants in minor severity crashes. Accordingly, the agency has added new activities to investigate this finding in its frontal crash protection research program.This paper presents an overview of the agency's overall research program. Selected results from the testing conducted to date are discussed. Finally, a discussion is presented toward improving occupant protection systems in frontal crashes.

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