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Technical Paper

Biomechanics of Bone and Tissue: A Review of Material Properties and Failure Characteristics

This paper contains a review of current information on biological structure, material properties and failure characteristics of bone, articular cartilage, ligament and tendon. The load-deformation response of biological tissues is presented with particular reference to the microstructure of the material. Although many of the tissues have been characterized as linear, elastic and isotropic materials, they actually have a more complicated response to load, which includes stiffening with increasing strain, inelastic yield, and strain rate sensitivity. Failure of compact and cancellous bone depends on the rate, type, and direction of loading. Soft biological tissues are vlscoelastie and exhibit a higher load tolerance with an increasing rate of loading. The paper includes a discussion on the basic principles of biomechanics and emphasizes material properties and failure characteristics of biological tissues subjected to impact loading.
Technical Paper

Biomechanics of Nonpenetrating Aortic Trauma: A Review

Life threatening chest injury can involve partial or full tears of the aorta. Investigations of fatal injuries in automobile accidents indicate that aortic trauma occurs in 10-20% of the cases. The major sites of aortic trauma include the aortic isthmus, the root, and the aortic insertion at the diaphragm - all of which are points of aortic tethering. The biomechanics of the injury process involve stretching of the vessel from points of tethering and hydrodynamic increases in blood pressure, which stretch the tissue to failure at a strain of about 150%. The non-isotropic stretch response of aortic tissue is discussed with reference to the frequent transverse orientation of the laceration. Congenital and pathophysiological conditions also influence the failure characteristics of the tissue. The significant factors associated with traumatic injury of the aorta are discussed in this review paper which is based on published technical information.
Technical Paper

Crash Causation: A Case Study of Fatal Accident Circumstances and Configurations

The causes for 131 fatal crashes of lap-shoulder belted occupants were analyzed for crash causation and avoidance opportunities. Fourteen crash scenarios were determined to depict the situation and circumstance of the accidents. Each scenario is discussed in relation to driver age, actions, behavior, errors and aggressiveness, as well as crash type and other factors influencing the crash. Nearly a third of crashes involved a rapid, unpredictable onset by reckless action or mistake of another driver. The remainder were caused by the driver of the case-vehicle. Some were single vehicle crashes primarily related to excessive speed, aggressive driving, and drifting out of lane. The others were multi-vehicle crashes due primarily to inadvertent errors. The most common errors were right-of-way violations at an intersection, loss of control on wet roads, impact of a stationary vehicle, and lane changing errors.
Technical Paper

Crash Injury Prevention: A Case Study of Fatal Crashes of Lap-Shoulder Belted Occupants

A case study was conducted of 123 crashes involving 144 fatally injured lap-shoulder belted front-seat occupants. The crashes occurred throughout the United States in 1985-86 and involved 97 driver and 47 right-front passenger deaths in new vehicles. A judgment was made by consensus of a safety panel on the potential for saving the victim's life by the addition of safety technology. Supplemental airbags provided the greatest potential for improving the life-saving effectiveness of current lap-shoulder belts. Overall, airbags may have prevented 12% of the belted occupant fatalities and 27% of the deaths in frontal crashes. The benefit of supplemental airbags was greater for the right-front passenger, in part, because of more females and occupants over 60 years of age in that seating position. A majority (68%) of the belted fatalities were judged unpreventable by reasonable restraint or vehicle modifications.
Technical Paper

Crash Injury Risks for Obese Occupants

Obesity rates are reaching an epidemic worldwide. In the US, nearly 40 million people are obese. The automotive safety community is starting to question the impact of obesity on occupant protection. This study investigates fatality and serious injury risks for front-seat occupants by Body Mass Index (BMI). NASS-CDS data was analyzed for calendar years 1993-2004. Occupant exposure and injury was divided in seven BMI categories with obese defined as those with BMI ≥ 30 kg/m2. Injuries were studied for drivers and right-front passengers and included analysis of lap-shoulder belted and unbelted occupants. The results show that obese occupants have a higher fatality risk compared to normal BMI occupants; morbidly obese occupants (BMI ≥ 40 kg/m2) have 2.25 times higher fatality risk (1.15% v 0.51%). The fatality risk for belted obese drivers was 0.29%, which was 6.7 times lower than the 1.94% for those unbelted. These rates are similar to other BMI occupants.
Technical Paper

Effectiveness of High-Retention Seats in Preventing Fatality: Initial Results and Trends

In 1995, new seat specifications were adopted by GM to provide high retention and improve occupant safety in rear crashes. With more than five years of phase-in of high retention (HR) seats, an analysis of FARS was undertaken to determine the initial field performance of HR seats in preventing fatalities. The 1991-2000 FARS was sorted for fatal rear-impacted vehicles. Using a VIN decoder, GM vehicles with HR front seats were sorted from those with baseline (pre-HR) seats. The fatal rear-impacted vehicle crashes were subdivided into several groups for analysis: 1) single-vehicle rear impacts, 2) two-vehicle rear crashes involving light striking vehicles, and 3) two-vehicle crashes involving heavy trucks and tractor-trailers, and multi-vehicle (3+) rear crashes.
Technical Paper

Effectiveness of Safety Belts and Airbags in Preventing Fatal Injury

Airbags and safety belts are now viewed as complements for occupant protection in a crash. There is also a view that no single solution exists to ensure safety and that a system of protective technologies is needed to maximize safety in the wide variety of real automotive crashes. This paper compares the fatality prevention effectiveness, and biomechanical principles of occupant restraint systems. It focuses on the effectiveness of various systems in preventing fatal injury assuming the restraint is available and used. While lap-shoulder belts provide the greatest safety, airbags protect both belted and unbelted occupants.
Technical Paper

Fatal Crashes of Female Drivers Wearing Safety Belts

Fatal crash circumstances for 48 belted female drivers were studied in-depth and compared to those of 83 belted male drivers in a similar population of vehicles. Women had a higher incidence of crashes on slippery roads, during lane changes and passing maneuvers than men who had a higher rate of aggressive driving and speed related crashes (χ2 = 10.47, p < 0.001). Driver-side damage was significantly more frequent in female than male crashes (χ2 = 5.74, p < 0.025) and women had a higher fraction of side impacts (45.9% v 31.4%) and crashes during daylight (87.0% v 72.3%, χ2 = 3.65, p < 0.05) than men. Women also had a higher fraction of potentially avoidable crashes than men (57.5% v 39.0%) and a lower involvement related to aggressive driving (10.6% v 25.6%). These differences were statistically significant (χ2 = 5.41, p < 0.025).
Technical Paper

Fatalities by Seating Position and Principal Direction of Force (PDOF) for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Row Occupants

Purpose: A better understanding of rear occupant fatality risks is needed to guide the development of safety improvements for 2nd and 3rd row occupants. This study investigates fatal accidents of 1st, 2nd and 3rd row occupants by principal direction of force (PDOF), irrespective of restraint use. It determined the number of fatalities, exposure and fatality risk. Methods: 1996-2005 FARS was analyzed for occupant fatalities by seating position (1st, 2nd and 3rd row) and principal direction of force (1-12 o'clock PDOF, rollover and other/unknown). Light vehicles were included with model year 1990+. 1996-2005 NASS-CDS was similarly analyzed for occupant exposure. Fatality risk was defined as the number of fatalities in FARS for a given category divided by the exposure from NASS-CDS. Results: Ten percent (9.6%) of fatalities were to 2nd row occupants in FARS. About 2,080 deaths occur to 2nd row occupants annually. 38.4% died in rollovers and 26.8% in frontal crashes.
Technical Paper

Field Data Analysis of Rear Occupant Injuries Part I: Adults and Teenagers

Since more occupants are using rear seats of vehicles, a better understanding of priorities for rear occupant protection is needed as future safety initiatives are considered. A two-part study was conducted on occupant injuries in rear seating positions. In Part I, adult and teenage occupants ≥13 years of age are investigated. In Part II, children aged 4-12 years old and toddlers and infants aged 0-3 are studied separately because of the use of infant and child seats and boosters involve different injury mechanisms and tolerances. The objectives of this study on adult and teenager, rear-seated occupants (≥13 years old) are to: 1) review accident data, 2) identify the distribution of rear occupants, and 3) analyze injury risks in various crash modes, including rollovers, frontal, side and rear impacts. Three databases were investigated: NASS-CDS, GES and FARS.
Technical Paper

History of Safety Research and Development on the General Motors Energy-Absorbing Steering System

This paper covers the development of the General Motors Energy Absorbing Steering System beginning with the work of the early crash injury pioneers Hugh DeHaven and Colonel John P. Stapp through developments and introduction of the General Motors energy absorbing steering system in 1966. evaluations of crash performance of the system, and further improvement in protective function of the steering assembly. The contributions of GM Research Laboratories are highlighted, including its safety research program. Safety Car, Invertube, the biomechanic projects at Wayne State University, and the thoracic and abdominal tolerance studies that lead to the development of the Viscous Injury Criterion and self-aligning steering wheel.
Technical Paper

Interrelationship of Velocity and Chest Compression in Blunt Thoracic Impact to Swine

As part of a continuing study of thoracic injury resulting from blunt frontal loading, the interrelationship of velocity and chest compression was investigated in a series of animal experiments. Anesthetized male swine were suspended in their natural posture and subjected to midsternal, ventrodorsad impact. Twelve animals were struck at a velocity of 14.5 ± 0.9 m/s and experienced a controlled thoracic compression of either 15, 19, or 24%. Six others were impacted at 9.7 ± 1.3 m/s with a greater mean compression of 27%. For the 14.5 m/s exposures the severity of trauma increased with increasing compression, ranging from minor to fatal. Injuries included skeletal fractures, pulmonary contusions, and cardiovascular ruptures leading to tamponade and hemothorax. Serious cardiac arrhythmias also occurred, including one case of lethal ventricular fibrillation. The 9.7 m/s exposures produced mainly pulmonary contusion, ranging in severity from moderate to critical.

Occupant and Vehicle Responses in Rollovers

During the past decade, there has been a steady increase in studies addressing rollover crashes and injuries. Though rollovers are not the most frequent crash type, they are significant with respect to serious injury and interest in rollovers has grown with the introduction of SUVs, vans, and light trucks. A review of Occupant and Vehicle Responses in Rollovers examines relevant conditions for field roll overs, vehicle responses, and occupant kinetics in the vehicle. This book edited by Dr. David C. Viano and Dr. Chantal S. Parenteau includes 62 technical documents covering 15 years of rollover crash safety, including field crash statistics, pre- and rollover dynamics, test procedures and dummy responses.
Technical Paper

Research Issues on the Biomechanics of Seating Discomfort: An Overview with Focus on Issues of the Elderly and Low-Back Pain

This paper reviews issues relating to seats including design for comfort and restraint, mechanics of discomfort and irritability, older occupants, and low-back pain. It focuses on the interface between seating technology and occupant comfort, and involves a technical review of medical-engineering information. The dramatic increase in the number of features currently available on seats outreaches the technical understanding of occupant accommodation and ride comfort. Thus, the current understanding of seat design parameters may not adequately encompass occupant needs. The review has found many pathways between seating features and riding comfort, each of which requires more specific information on the biomechanics of discomfort by pressure distribution, body support, ride vibration, material breathability, and other factors. These inputs stimulate mechanisms of discomfort that need to be quantified in terms of mechanical requirements for seat design and function.

Role of the Seat in Rear Crash Safety

Role of the Seat in Rear Crash Safety addresses the historic debate over seatback stiffness, energy absorbing yielding, occupant retention and whiplash prevention; and it provides a scientific foundation for the direction GM pursued in the development and validation of future seat designs. It also describes the multi-year research study into the role of the seat in rear crash safety - first by addressing the need for occupant retention in the more severe rear crashes; and then by addressing the needs for an adequately positioned head restraint and changes in the compliance of the seatback to lower the risks of the whiplash in low-speed crashes.
Technical Paper

Rollover Crash Sensing and Safety Overview

This paper provides an overview of rollover crash safety, including field crash statistics, pre- and rollover dynamics, test procedures and dummy responses as well as a bibliography of pertinent literature. Based on the 2001 Traffic Safety Facts published by NHTSA, rollovers account for 10.5% of the first harmful events in fatal crashes; but, 19.5% of vehicles in fatal crashes had a rollover in the impact sequence. Based on an analysis of the 1993-2001 NASS for non-ejected occupants, 10.5% of occupants are exposed to rollovers, but these occupants experience a high proportion of AIS 3-6 injury (16.1% for belted and 23.9% for unbelted occupants). The head and thorax are the most seriously injured body regions in rollovers. This paper also describes a research program aimed at defining rollover sensing requirements to activate belt pretensioners, roof-rail airbags and convertible pop-up rollbars.
Technical Paper

Safety of a Downsized Vehicle Fleet: Effects of Mass Distribution, Impact Speed and Inherent Protection in Car-To-Car Crashes

Vehicle fleet downsizing has been discussed in Europe as an aspect to reduce fuel emissions. A recently developed mathematical model was used to study the individual effects of fleet mass distribution, impact speed reductions and inherent vehicle protection on average injury and fatality rates for downsized fleets. A baseline fleet of 700-2000 kg was downsized by a) reducing all vehicle masses by 10% or 20% and b) by removing all cars heavier than 1400 or 1200 kg. The results showed that the safety can be maintained if the vehicle masses are reduced proportionally to their original mass. A higher safety level can be achieved by removing the heavier vehicles. Traffic safety can be further enhanced by impact speed reductions or by improvements of restraint systems and vehicle compatibility.
Technical Paper

Significance of Intersection Crashes for Older Drivers

As the driving population ages, there is a need to understand the accident patterns of older drivers. Previous research has shown that side impact collisions, usually at an intersection, are a serious problem for the older driver in terms of injury outcome. This study compares the frequency of side impact, intersection collisions of different driver age groups using state and national police-reported accident data as well as an in-depth analysis of cases from a fatal accident study. All data reveal that the frequency of intersection crashes increases with driver age. The state and national data show that older drivers have an increase frequency of intersection crashes involving vehicles crossing paths prior to the collision compared to their involvement in all crash types. When taking into account traffic control devices at an intersection, older drivers have the greatest involvement of multiple vehicle crashes at a signed intersection.
Technical Paper

Thoracic Impact Response of Live Porcine Subjects

Five anesthetized porcine subjects were exposed to blunt thoracic impact using a 21 kg mass with a flat contact surface traveling at 3.0 to 12.2 m/s. The experiments were conducted to assess the appropriateness of studying in vivo mechanical and physiological response to thoracic impact in a porcine animal model. A comprehensive review of comparative anatomy between the pig and man indicates that the cardiovascular, respiratory and thoracic skeletal systems of the pig are anatomically and functionally a good parallel of similar structures in man. Thoracic anthropometry measurements document that the chest of a 50 to 60 kg pig is similar to the 50th percentile adult male human, but is narrower and deeper. Peak applied force and chest deflection are in good agreement between the animal's responses and similar impact severity data on fresh cadavers.
Technical Paper

Thoracic Impact: A Viscous Tolerance Criterion

There are currently two accepted criteria for assessment act exposures. Our studies have shown an interaction between the deformation velocity and level of compression during impact, resulting in a greater compression tolerance for low-speed impact than for high-speed loadings. High-speed thoracic impact can cause critical or fatal injury in physiologic experiments before exceeding the acceleration or compression tolerance. The velocity-sensitive tolerance is represented by the maximum product of velocity of deformation and compression, which is derivable from the chest compression response. As the magnitude of this “viscous” response increases, the risk of serious or fatal injury increases. This paper discusses the analysis of available literature and results from our laboratory and demonstrates the need for a viscous tolerance criterion to assess chest impact protection in high-velocity impact.