Project: Frontal Impact Safety Diversity Study

Reference: S1004/V8

Last update: 05/05/2011 12:04:09


The Department wishes to understand the benefits that could be accrued by offering more optimal crash protection to a wider range of vehicle occupants in the event of a frontal collision. We have an interest to improve 'safety diversity' - that is to increase the levels of protection afforded to female, older and small stature occupants - to ensure that state-of-the-art protection is offered to as wide a range of car occupants as possible. This question is being raised in the context of an ageing population and also in recognition of changes in the degree of prevalence of male drivers over recent years.


It is recognised that changing the focus of protection away from the 50th percentile male may adversely impact the protection offered to this notable casualty group. This risk needs to be understood as does the overall effect on casualty numbers, i.e. would the overall benefit of change be positive. The Department wishes to research these questions, report on the risks and quantify the benefits that may be achievable.

In addition, earlier research has indicated the potential to deduce, for example, skeletal strength which opens up the possibilities of "smart restraint systems" that could alter their characteristics on the basis of specific information about the seat occupant being available. This project is also interested in the potential for this type of safety technology to provide protection to a wider range of the population than is generally available today.

The objectives of this project are therefore to:

. Quantify the casualty gain that might be achieved through using different injury criteria, injury risk functions or crash test dummies that represent user groups other than the current 50th percentile male dummy, both:
. Overall and
. By user group - i.e. specifically female, older and small stature occupants.
. Quantify the change in risk to, and the casualty effect on, the 50th percentile male as a consequence of this shift.
. Show the effect on casualty numbers if current vehicle restraint systems were adapted to tailor performance for the biomechanical limits for female, older and small stature occupants' and the impact of these changes against the protection offered to the 50th percentile male and other user groups.
. Show the effect on casualty numbers that might be achieved through the introduction of advanced "smart restraint systems" (that tailor their restraint energy management to the biomechanical limits for female, older and small stature occupants'), and show the impact of these changes against the protection offered to the 50th percentile male and other user groups.


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

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £99,993.00

Actual start date: 18 October 2010

Actual completion date: 31 March 2011

Summary of results

  1. The project assessed the relative injury risk for different occupant groups based on crash test data from previous projects and the wider literature. It was supplemented by a programme of sled tests using a typical modern European restraint system, with the 5th female Hybrid III, 50th and 95th percentile male Hybrid III and THOR crash test dummies. The sled tests were conducted using crash pulses that represented a range of crash speeds, and both full-width and offset frontal collisions.
    The information from this test programme, as well as from the state-of-the-art review of restraint system technologies, was used to determine the potential effects that different restraint options may have on different occupants in frontal impact collisions. This matrix of potential effects from different restraint options was then applied to an analysis of frontal impact accident data involving Regulation 94 compliant vehicles, which was used to define the potential benefits and disbenefits that may result from the possible changes to the Regulation 94 test procedure defined in the objectives.