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Technical Paper

Optimizing Seat Belt and Airbag Designs for Rear Seat Occupant Protection in Frontal Crashes

Recent field data have shown that the occupant protection in vehicle rear seats failed to keep pace with advances in the front seats likely due to the lack of advanced safety technologies. The objective of this study was to optimize advanced restraint systems for protecting rear seat occupants with a range of body sizes under different frontal crash pulses. Three series of sled tests (baseline tests, advanced restraint trial tests, and final tests), MADYMO model validations against a subset of the sled tests, and design optimizations using the validated models were conducted to investigate rear seat occupant protection with 4 Anthropomorphic Test Devices (ATDs) and 2 crash pulses.
Technical Paper

A Pilot Study of Occupant Accommodation and Seat Belt Fit for Law Enforcement Officers

Law enforcement officers (LEO) make extensive use of vehicles to perform their jobs, often spending large portions of a shift behind the wheel. Few LEO vehicles are purpose-built; the vast majority are modified civilian vehicles. Data from the field indicate that LEO suffer from relatively high levels musculoskeletal injury that may be due in part to poor accommodation provided by their vehicles. LEO are also exposed to elevated crash injury risk, which may be exacerbated by a compromise in the performance of the occupant restraint systems due to body-borne equipment. A pilot study was conducted to demonstrate the application of three-dimensional anthropometric scanning and measurement technology to address critical concerns related to vehicle design. Detailed posture and belt fit data were gathered from five law enforcement officers as they sat in the patrol vehicles that they regularly used and in a mockup of a mid-sized vehicle.
Technical Paper

Integration of Active and Passive Safety Technologies - A Method to Study and Estimate Field Capability

The objective of this study is to develop a method that uses a combination of field data analysis, naturalistic driving data analysis, and computational simulations to explore the potential injury reduction capabilities of integrating passive and active safety systems in frontal impact conditions. For the purposes of this study, the active safety system is actually a driver assist (DA) feature that has the potential to reduce delta-V prior to a crash, in frontal or other crash scenarios. A field data analysis was first conducted to estimate the delta-V distribution change based on an assumption of 20% crash avoidance resulting from a pre-crash braking DA feature. Analysis of changes in driver head location during 470 hard braking events in a naturalistic driving study found that drivers’ head positions were mostly in the center position before the braking onset, while the percentage of time drivers leaning forward or backward increased significantly after the braking onset.
Technical Paper

Effects of Driver Characteristics on Seat Belt Fit

A laboratory study of posture and belt fit was conducted with 46 men and 51 women, 61% of whom were age 60 years or older and 32% age 70 years or older. In addition, 28% of the 97 participants were obese, defined as body mass index ≥ 30 kg/m2. A mockup of a passenger vehicle driver's station was created and five belt anchorage configurations were produced by moving the buckle, outboard-upper (D-ring), and outboard-lower anchorages. An investigator recorded the three-dimensional locations of landmarks on the belt and the participant's body using a coordinate measurement machine. The location of the belt with respect to the underlying skeletal structures was analyzed, along with the length of belt webbing. Using linear regression models, an increase in age from 20 to 80 years resulted in the lap belt positioned 18 mm further forward relative to the pelvis, 26 mm greater lap belt webbing length, and 19 mm greater shoulder belt length.
Technical Paper

Biomechanical Considerations for Assessing Interactions of Children and Small Occupants with Inflatable Seat Belts

NHTSA estimates that more than half of the lives saved (168,524) in car crashes between 1960 and 2002 were due to the use of seat belts. Nevertheless, while seat belts are vital to occupant crash protection, safety researchers continue efforts to further enhance the capability of seat belts in reducing injury and fatality risk in automotive crashes. Examples of seat belt design concepts that have been investigated by researchers include inflatable, 4-point, and reverse geometry seat belts. In 2011, Ford Motor Company introduced the first rear seat inflatable seat belts into production vehicles. A series of tests with child and small female-sized Anthropomorphic Test Devices (ATD) and small, elderly female Post Mortem Human Subjects (PMHS) was performed to evaluate interactions of prototype inflatable seat belts with the chest, upper torso, head and neck of children and small occupants, from infants to young adolescents.
Technical Paper

Biomechanical Assessment of a Rear-Seat Inflatable Seatbelt in Frontal Impacts

This study evaluated the biomechanical performance of a rear-seat inflatable seatbelt system and compared it to that of a 3-point seatbelt system, which has a long history of good real-world performance. Frontal-impact sled tests were conducted with Hybrid III anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs) and with post mortem human subjects (PMHS) using both restraint systems and a generic rear-seat configuration. Results from these tests demonstrated: a) reduction in forward head excursion with the inflatable seatbelt system when compared to that of a 3-point seatbelt and; b) a reduction in ATD and PMHS peak chest deflections and the number of PMHS rib fractures with the inflatable seatbelt system and c) a reduction in PMHS cervical-spine injuries, due to the interaction of the chin with the inflated shoulder belt. These results suggest that an inflatable seatbelt system will offer additional benefits to some occupants in the rear seats.
Technical Paper

Factors Associated With Abdominal Injury in Frontal, Farside, and Nearside Crashes

The NASS-CDS (1998-2008) and CIREN datasets were analyzed to identify factors contributing to abdominal injury in crash environments where belt use and airbag deployment are common. In frontal impacts, the percentage of occupants sustaining abdominal injury is three times higher for unbelted compared to belted front-row adult occupants (p≺0.0001) at both AIS2+ and AIS3+ injury levels. Airbag deployment does not substantially affect the percentage of occupants who sustain abdominal injuries in frontal impacts (p=0.6171), while belt use reduces the percentage of occupants sustaining abdominal injury in both nearside and farside crashes (p≺0.0001). Right-front passengers in right-side impacts have the highest risk (1.91%) of AIS 3+ abdominal injury (p=0.03). The percentage of occupants with AIS 3+ abdominal injuries does not vary with age for frontal, nearside, or farside impacts.
Technical Paper

Interactions of Out-of-Position Small-Female Surrogates with a Depowered Driver Airbag

The objectives of this study were to examine the response, repeatability, and injury predictive ability of the Hybrid III small-female dummy to static out-of-position (OOP) deployments using a depowered driver-side airbag. Five dummy tests were conducted in two OOP configurations by two different laboratories. The OOP configurations were nose-on-rim (NOR) and chest-on-bag (COB). Four cadaver tests were conducted using unembalmed small-female cadavers and the same airbags used in the dummy tests under similar OOP conditions. One cadaver test was designed to increase airbag loading of the face and neck (a forehead-on-rim, or FOR test). Comparison between the dummy tests of Lab 1 and of Lab 2 indicated the test conditions and results were repeatable. In the cadaver tests no skull fractures or neck injuries occurred. However, all four cadavers had multiple rib fractures.
Technical Paper

Biomechanics of 4-Point Seat Belt Systems in Farside Impacts

The biomechanical behavior of a harness style 4-point seat belt system in farside impacts was investigated through dummy and post mortem human subject tests. Specifically, this study was conducted to evaluate the effect of the inboard shoulder belt portion of a 4-point seat belt on the risk of vertebral and soft-tissue neck injuries during simulated farside impacts. Two series of sled tests simulating farside impacts were completed with crash dummies of different sizes, masses and designs to determine the forces and moments on the neck associated with loading of the shoulder belt. The tests were also performed to help determine the appropriate dummy to use in further testing. The BioSID and SID-IIs reasonably simulated the expected kinematics response and appeared to be reasonable dummies to use for further testing. Analysis also showed that dummy injury measures were lower than injury assessment reference values used in development of side impact airbags.
Technical Paper

Development of Surrogate Child Restraints for Testing Occupant Sensing and Classification Systems

This paper describes the design and development of a family of surrogate child restraints that are intended for use in developing and testing occupant sensing and classification systems. Detailed measurements were made of the geometry and mass distribution characteristics of 34 commercial child restraints, including infant restraints, convertibles, combination restraints, and boosters. The restraints were installed in three test seats with appropriately sized crash dummies to obtain data on seat-surface pressure patterns and the position and orientation of the restraint with belt loading. The data were used to construct two surrogates with removable components. The convertible surrogate can be used to represent a rear-facing infant restraint with or without a base, a rear-facing convertible, or a forward-facing convertible. The booster surrogate can represent a high-back belt-positioning booster, a backless booster, or a forward-facing-only restraint with a five-point harness.
Technical Paper

Biomechanics of 4-Point Seat Belt Systems in Frontal Impacts

The biomechanical behavior of 4-point seat belt systems was investigated through MADYMO modeling, dummy tests and post mortem human subject tests. This study was conducted to assess the effect of 4-point seat belts on the risk of thoracic injury in frontal impacts, to evaluate the ability to prevent submarining under the lap belt using 4-point seat belts, and to examine whether 4-point belts may induce injuries not typically observed with 3-point seat belts. The performance of two types of 4-point seat belts was compared with that of a pretensioned, load-limited, 3-point seat belt. A 3-point belt with an extra shoulder belt that “crisscrossed” the chest (X4) appeared to add constraint to the torso and increased chest deflection and injury risk. Harness style shoulder belts (V4) loaded the body in a different biomechanical manner than 3-point and X4 belts.
Technical Paper

Abdominal Impact Response to Rigid-Bar, Seatbelt, and Airbag Loading

This study was conducted to resolve discrepancies and fill in gaps in the biomechanical impact response of the human abdomen to frontal impact loading. Three types of abdominal loading were studied: rigid-bar impacts, seatbelt loading, and close-proximity (out-of-position) airbag deployments. Eleven rigid-bar free-back tests were performed into the mid and upper abdomens of unembalmed instrumented human cadavers using nominal impact speeds of 6 and 9 m/s. Seven fixed-back rigid-bar tests were also conducted at 3, 6, and 9 m/s using one cadaver to examine the effects of body mass, spinal flexion, and repeated testing. Load-penetration corridors were developed and compared to those previously established by other researchers. Six seatbelt tests were conducted using three cadavers and a peak-loading rate of 3 m/s. The seatbelt loading tests were designed to maximize belt/abdomen interaction and were not necessarily representative of real-world crashes.
Technical Paper

Development and Testing of a Prototype Pregnant Abdomen for the Small-Female Hybrid III ATD

A new prototype pregnant abdomen for the Hybrid III small-female ATD is being developed and has been evaluated in a series of component and whole-dummy tests. The new abdomen uses a fluid-filled silicone-rubber bladder to represent the human uterus at 30-weeks gestation, and incorporates anthropometry based on measurements of pregnant women in an automotive driving posture. The response of the new pregnant abdomen to rigid-bar, belt, and close-proximity airbag loading closely matches the human cadaver response, which is thought to be representative to the response of the pregnant abdomen. In the current prototype, known as MAMA-2B (Maternal Anthropomorphic Measurement Apparatus, version 2B), the risk of adverse fetal outcome is determined by measuring the peak anterior pressure within the fluid-filled bladder.
Technical Paper

Development of a Reusable, Rate-Sensitive Abdomen for the Hybrid III Family of Dummies

The objective of this work was to develop a reusable, rate-sensitive dummy abdomen with abdominal injury assessment capability. The primary goal for the abdomen developed was to have good biofidelity in a variety of loading situations that might be encountered in an automotive collision. This paper presents a review of previous designs for crash dummy abdomens, a description of the development of the new abdomen, results of testing with the new abdomen and instrumentation, and suggestions for future work. The biomechanical response targets for the new abdomen were determined from tests of the mid abdomen done in a companion biomechanical study. The response of the abdominal insert is an aggregate response of the dummy’s entire abdominal area and does not address differences in upper versus lower abdominal response, solid versus hollow organs, or organ position or mobility.
Technical Paper

Prediction of Airbag-Induced Forearm Fractures and Airbag Aggressivity

This study continued the biomechanical investigations of forearm fractures caused by direct loading of steering-wheel airbags during the early stages of deployment. Twenty-four static deployments of driver airbags were conducted into the forearms of unembalmed whole cadavers using a range of airbags, including airbags that are depowered as allowed by the new federal requirements for frontal impact testing. In general, the depowered airbags showed a reduction in incidence and severity of forearm fractures compared to the pre-depowered airbags tested. Data from these twenty-four tests were combined with results from previous studies to develop a refined empirical model for fracture occurrence based on Average Distal Forearm Speed (ADFS), and a revised value for fifty-percent probability of forearm-bone fracture of 10.5 m/s. Bone mineral content, which is directly related to forearm tolerance, was found to be linearly related to arm mass.
Technical Paper

Development of Performance Specifications for the Occupant Classification Anthropomorphic Test Device (Ocatd)

Advanced airbag systems use a variety of sensors to classify vehicle occupants so that the airbag deployment can be modulated accordingly. One potential input to such systems is the distribution of pressure applied to the seat surface by the occupant. However, the development of such systems is hindered by the lack of suitable human surrogates. The OCATD program has developed two new surrogates for advanced airbag applications representing a small adult woman and a six-year-old child. This paper describes the development of performance specifications for the OCATDs based on a study of the seat surface pressure distributions produced by vehicle occupants. The pressure distributions of sixty-eight small women and children ranging in body weight between 23 and 48 kg were measured on four seats in up to twelve postures per seat. The data were analyzed to determine the parameters of the pressure distribution that best predict occupant body weight.
Technical Paper

Development of Anthropometric Specifications for the Six-Year-Old OCATD

Advanced airbag systems use information from a variety of sensors to tune the airbag performance for crash severity and occupant characteristics. A new family of Occupant Classification ATDs (OCATD) have been developed for use in the design and testing of advanced airbag systems. This paper describes the development of anthropometric standards for an OCATD that represents a typical six-year-old child. Detailed analyses of existing child anthropometry databases were conducted to develop reference dimensions. A child who closely matched the reference dimensions was measured in a variety of conditions. A custom molded measurement seat was constructed using foam-in-place seating material. The surface of the child's body was scanned as he sat in the custom seat, and the three-dimensional locations of body landmarks defining the skeleton position were recorded.
Technical Paper

Methods for Laboratory Investigation of Airbag-Induced Thermal Skin Burns

Two new techniques for investigating the thermal skin-burn potential of airbags are presented. A reduced-volume airbag test procedure has been developed to obtain airbag pressures that are representative of a dynamic ridedown event during a static deployment. Temperature and heat flux measurements made with this procedure can be used to predict airbag thermal burn potential. Measurements from the reduced-volume procedure are complemented by data obtained using two gas-jet simulators, called heatguns. Gas is vented in controlled bursts from a large, heated, pressurized tank of gas onto a target surface. Heat flux measurements on the target surface have been used to develop quantitative models of the relationships between gas jet characteristics and burn potential.
Technical Paper

Development of an Improved Airbag-Induced Thermal Skin Burn Model

The UMTRI Airbag Skin Burn Model has been improved through laboratory testing and the implementation of a more flexible heat transfer model. A new impinging jet module based on laboratory measurements of heat flux due to high-velocity gas jets has been added, along with an implicit finite-difference skin conduction module. The new model can be used with airbag gas dynamics simulation outputs, or with heat flux data measured in the laboratory, to predict the potential for thermal skin burn due to exposure to airbag exhaust gas.
Technical Paper

Challenges in Frontal Crash Protection of Pregnant Drivers Based on Anthropometric Considerations

Pregnant occupants pose a particular challenge to safety engineers because of their different anthropometry and the additional “occupant within the occupant.” A detailed study of the anthropometry and seated posture of twentytwo pregnant drivers over the course of their pregnancies was conducted. Subjects were tested in an adjustable seating buck that could be configured to different vehicle package geometries with varying belt anchorage locations. Each subject was tested four times over the course of her pregnancy to examine changes in seat positioning, seated anthropometry, and positioning of the lap and shoulder belts with gestational age. Data collected include preferred seating positions of pregnant drivers, proximity of the pregnant occupant to the steering wheel and airbag module, contours of the subjects’ torsos and abdomens relative to seat-belt centerline contours, and subject perceptions of their seated posture and proximity to vehicle components.