Project: Assessment of Advanced Restraint Systems

Reference: S0114/VF

Last update: 04/10/2006 11:50:36


The project objectives are to:

* determine whether the optimisation of vehicle designs to increase the protection of 50th percentile occupants at higher impact speeds can have a detrimental effect on the safety of occupants in other size ranges or other impact severities;
* determine to what extent the use of advanced restraint systems can address any concerns identified; and
* Prepare a draft work specification for Phase II.


The use of advanced restraint systems such as airbags and seat belts equipped with pretensioners and load limiters has clearly enhanced car secondary safety in recent years.

Although the use of such systems is not mandatory, it has been encouraged by:
* frontal impact regulations such as Community Directive 96/79 and ECE Regulation 94; and
* the EuroNCAP programme.

EuroNCAP uses a higher test speed than the regulatory standards. While this has led to a general improvement in vehicle crashworthiness, as a result of manufacturers aiming for the highest feasible EuroNCAP score, there is some concern whether the emphasis on higher speed crashworthiness is beneficial in all accident scenarios. For example, it may encourage the use of more aggressive airbags that can provide protection at higher speeds but may increase the possibility of injury in the more commonly encountered low-speed impacts. Furthermore, both the regulatory and EuroNCAP tests are based upon the 50th percentile male dummy, which may mean that the vehicle design is optimised away from the many larger or smaller drivers and passengers.

The development of adaptive restraint systems can address this problem by tailoring the response of the system to input variables such as crash severity and occupant details. However, the current testing regimes do not encourage or reward the use of such systems.


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

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £340,318.00

Actual start date: 01 May 2002

Actual completion date: 04 October 2006


PR/SE/604/02. Assessment of Advanced Restarint Systems - Initial Regulatory Impact Assessment
Author: TRL Ltd.
Publication date: 01/11/2002
Source: Contact

PR/SE/765/03. Assessment of Advanced Restraint Systems - Interim Report
Author: TRL Ltd
Publication date: 01/09/2003
Source: Contact

Summary of results

  1. This research identified that, for the vehicles tested, the restraint systems may be optimised for higher test speeds, which ensures a high level of protection for 50th percentile occupants during the 64km/h EuroNCAP test condition, but this same protection is not necessarily ensured at lower crash severities, or for smaller and larger occupant sizes.