Two weeks ago, The Center for Child Injury Prevention Studies (CChIPS) held its annual Advances in Child Injury Prevention (ACIP) conference in Plymouth, Michigan. ACIP presents the latest research in traffic safety for children and adolescents. Attendance at ACIP has grown every year, this time attracting over 100 participants from 38 companies. Presenters include investigators funded by CChIPS as well as external investigators who are invited by CChIPS to update the participants on relevant new work.
This year’s topics included:
- injury risk to children in rollover crashes
- rear seat occupant protection
- teen driver crash scenarios, warning systems and distraction
- child comfort in child safety seats
- fit of the child restraint systems in the vehicle
- comparing the use and performance of crash test dummies
- pediatric biomechanics
Each presentation stood out in its own way, but the child comfort study illustrated the “practical to industry” strengths of CChIPS research. Dr. John Bolte, Director of Ohio State University’s CChIPS program, presented the work he has pursued with OSU’s Julie Bing, in a talk entitled “Analysis of Comfort in Forward-Facing versus Rear-Facing CRS.” This study quantified the comfort of older children in rear-facing car seats. Given the American Academy of Pediatrics’ updated recommendations to keep children rear-facing in their child safety seat until they are two years old, the OSU researchers wanted to know how staying rear facing longer affects a child’s comfort. This is a common concern among parents that could lead to premature graduation to forward-facing restraints. Short answer is children are generally comfortable as well as safer. However, industry can likely apply the study findings to further enhance future design of restraints for comfort. Details of the findings will be featured in a future journal article, and further work on the project will include a real-world driving study.
A second presentation examined the other end of the “child” age spectrum. University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing Postdoctoral Fellow and CHOP@CIRP investigator, Catherine McDonald, PhD, presented “Serious Teen Crashes: Identification of Common Scenarios and Factors,” a study conducted with co-Principal Investigator Allison Curry, PhD. Drs. McDonald and Curry used data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) National Motor Vehicle Crash Causation Survey to identify the most common crash scenarios for teen drivers and compare the driver-related critical errors and other crash contributing factors for teens and adults. The overall goal of their study is to understand how teen drivers differ from adult drivers, which can help inform education, training and technologies that support crash avoidance and skill assessment.
Both talks fostered critical conversations among a room full of engineers, industry representatives and government representatives that could eventually lead to better safety design and policies that improve the health and safety of children and adolescents.