Project: Seat Test Programme

Reference: S093A/VF

Last update: 04/12/2003 14:28:28


The initial work on this project included a study of the Co-operative Crash Injury Study database to try to determine whether seat shape and design can be improved to reduce occupant injuries sustained in oblique and side impacts. This report describes the test method and procedures for a series of dynamic seat tests. The tests were conducted to evaluate to what extent shape and design of seat offered an occupant support during impact and if this had any influence on the potential risk of occupant injury.


A range of seats was tested with different levels of bolstering and contour at a range of impact directions. The orientation of the seat was such that the impact simulated the effects on an occupant of sitting in the non-struck side of the vehicle.


TRL Limited
Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA
+44 (0)1344 773131

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £158,000.00

Actual start date: 01 October 1994

Actual completion date: 31 January 1997


PR/SE/242/97. Seat Test Programme. Final report
Author: TRL Ltd
Publication date: 31/01/1997
Source: Contact

Summary of results

  1. The results from film analysis show that the maximum relative head displacements varied from about 0.7m to 1.4m. The level of seat design had little effect on relative head displacement up to about 0.6m - a distance in which we might expect head contact with the vehicle's interior to occur in 30 degree and 60 degree impacts. The relative head velocities were calculated to be between about 8m/s and 23m/s at this distance, which could cause serious injury.

    Most seats that offered an increased level of contouring did so only by providing greater depths of foam cushioning. Seats that also offered additional structural rigidity, usually by means of a thin metal rod running adjacent to the sculptured foam on the seat back, were damaged by the dummy as a result of the impact. It appeared that this additional structure had little effect in providing additional support by restraining the dummy in the seat. However, due to the type of dummy used in the tests it was not possible to determine whether causing damage to the seat in this way would also have had the effect of injuring the occupant.