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Technical Paper

Rear Seat Occupant Safety: An Investigation of a Progressive Force-Limiting, Pretensioning 3-Point Belt System Using Adult PMHS in Frontal Sled Tests

Rear seat adult occupant protection is receiving increased attention from the automotive safety community. Recent anthropomorphic test device (ATD) studies have suggested that it may be possible to improve kinematics and reduce injuries to rear seat occupants in frontal collisions by incorporating shoulder-belt force-limiting and pretensioning (FL+PT) technologies into rear seat 3-point belt restraints. This study seeks to further investigate the feasibility and potential kinematic benefits of a FL+PT rear seat, 3-point belt restraint system in a series of 48 kmh frontal impact sled tests (20 g, 80 ms sled acceleration pulse) performed with post mortem human surrogates (PMHS). Three PMHS were tested with a 3-point belt restraint with a progressive (two-stage) force limiting and pretensioning retractor in a sled buck representing the rear seat occupant environment of a 2004 mid-sized sedan.
Technical Paper

Occupant-to-Occupant Interaction and Impact Injury Risk in Side Impact Crashes

To date, efforts to improve occupant protection in side impact crashes have concentrated on reducing the injuries to occupants seated on the struck side of the vehicle arising from contact with the intruding side structure and/or external objects. Crash investigations indicate that occupants on the struck side of a vehicle may also be injured by contact with an adjacent occupant in the same seating row. Anecdotal information suggests that the injury consequences of occupant-to-occupant impacts can be severe, and sometimes life threatening. Occupant-to-occupant impacts leave little evidence in the vehicle, and hence these impacts can be difficult for crash investigators to detect and may be underreported. The objective of this study was to evaluate the risk of impact injury from occupant-to-occupant impacts in side impact vehicle crashes. The study examined 9608 crashes extracted from NASS/CDS 1993-2006 to investigate the risk of occupant-to-occupant impacts.
Technical Paper

Sled System Requirements for the Analysis of Side Impact Thoracic Injury Criteria and Occupant Protection

This paper discusses struck-side occupant thoracic response to side-impact loading and the requirements of a sled system capable of reproducing the relevant motions of a laterally impacted vehicle. A simplified viscoelastic representation of a thorax is used to evaluate the effect of the door velocity-time profile on injury criteria and on the internal stress state of the thorax. Simulations using a prescribed door velocity-time profile (punch impact) are contrasted against simulations using a constant-velocity impact (Heidelberg-type impact). It is found that the stress distribution and magnitude within the thorax, in addition to the maximum thorax compression and viscous response, depend not only on the door-occupant closing velocity, but also on the shape of the door velocity-time profile throughout the time of contact with the occupant. A sled system capable of properly reproducing side-impact door and seat motion is described.
Technical Paper

Structural and Material Changes in the Aging Thorax and Their Role in Crash Protection for Older Occupants

The human body undergoes a variety of changes as it ages through adulthood. These include both morphological (structural) changes (e.g., increased thoracic kyphosis) and material changes (e.g., osteoporosis). The purpose of this study is to evaluate structural changes that occur in the aging bony thorax and to assess the importance of these changes relative to the well-established material changes. The study involved two primary components. First, full-thorax computed tomography (CT) scans of 161 patients, age 18 to 89 years, were analyzed to quantify the angle of the ribs in the sagittal plane. A significant association between the angle of the ribs and age was identified, with the ribs becoming more perpendicular to the spine as age increased (0.08 degrees/year, p=0.012). Next, a finite element model of the thorax was used to evaluate the importance of this rib angle change relative to other factors associated with aging.