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In the mid 1990’s the U.S. Department of Transportation made recommendations to place children and infants into the rear seating areas of motor vehicles to avoid front seat airbag induced injuries and fatalities. In most rear-impacts, however, the adult occupied front seats will collapse into the rear occupant area and pose another potentially serious injury hazard to the rear-seated children. Since rear-impacts involve a wide range of speeds, impact severity, and various sizes of adults in collapsing front seats, a multi-variable experimental method was employed in conjunction with a multi-level “factorial analysis” technique to study injury potential of rear-seated children. Various sizes of Hybrid III adult surrogates, seated in a “typical” average strength collapsing type of front seat, and a three-year-old Hybrid III child surrogate, seated on a built-in booster seat located directly behind the front adult occupant, were tested at various impact severity levels in a popular “mini-van” sled-buck test set up. A total of five test configurations were utilized in this study. Three levels of velocity changes ranging from 22.5 to 42.5 kph were used. The average of peak accelerations on the sled-buck tests ranged from approximately 8.2 G’s up to about 11.1 G’s, with absolute peak values of just over 14 G’s at the higher velocity change. The parameters of the test configuration enabled the experimental data to be combined into a polynomial “injury” function of the two primary independent variables (i.e. front seat adult occupant weight and velocity change) so that the “likelihood” of rear child “injury potential” could be determined over a wide range of the key parameters. The experimentally derived head injury data was used to obtain a preliminary HIC (Head Injury Criteria) polynomial fit at the 900 level for the rear-seated child. Several actual accident cases were compared with the preliminary polynomial fit. This study provides a test efficient, multi-variable, method to compare the injury biomechanical data with actual accident cases.
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