Center for Injury Research and Prevention

The Effect of Vehicle Countermeasures and Age on Human Volunteer Kinematics During Evasive Swerving Events

TitleThe Effect of Vehicle Countermeasures and Age on Human Volunteer Kinematics During Evasive Swerving Events
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsHolt C, Seacrist T, Douglas EC, Graci V, Kerrigan J, Kent R, Balasubramanian S, Arbogast KB
JournalTraffic Injury Prevention
Date Published11/2019
Type of ArticleJournal
Keywordshuman volunteers, occupant kinematics, Pediatrics, pre-crash, sled testing, swerving

Objective: Emergency maneuvers such as evasive swerving often precede a crash. These events are typically low-acceleration, time-extended events where the inertial forces have the potential to cause changes to the occupant’s initial state (initial posture, position, muscle tension). The objective of this study was to systematically quantify the kinematics of pediatric and adult human volunteers during simulated pre-crash evasive swerving maneuvers and evaluate the effect of age and two vehicle-based countermeasures.

Methods: A novel laboratory device was designed to expose subjects to non-injurious loading conditions that mimic real-world evasive swerving events. A four-cycle oscillatory lateral pulse with a maximum acceleration of 0.72 g (0.53 g for the first lateral movement in the first cycle) was applied. Forty seat belt restrained subjects across four age groups – 9-11 years (n = 10), 12-14 years (n = 10), 15-17 years (n = 10) and 18-40 years (n = 10) – were exposed to a series of test conditions (baseline, pre-pretensioned seat belt, sculpted vehicle seat with and without inflated torso bolsters) while their kinematics were captured using 3 D motion capture and muscle activity was recorded. Reaction loads were collected from the shoulder belt and footrest. Data are presented for the first cycle only.

Results: Pre-pretensioning the shoulder belt before the onset of acceleration had the greatest restraining effect on the head and trunk for all age groups. In the pre-pretensioning trials, compared to baseline, subjects exhibited 34% and 33% less head excursion, into and out of the shoulder belt respectively. Similar reductions were observed with pre-pretensioning for trunk excursion (45% and 53% reductions, in and out of the belt respectively). Inflating seat torso bolsters reduced lateral kinematics relative to baseline but to a lesser extent than the pre-pretensioner (Head Out of belt: 11%; Head Into Belt: 32% and Trunk Out of Belt: 15%; Trunk Into Belt: 27%). Although there was no overall effect of age on the magnitude of lateral displacement, different age groups employed various neuromuscular strategies to control their kinematics.

Conclusion: A pre-pretensioner was an effective vehicle countermeasure during evasive swerving maneuvers as it substantially reduced lateral head and trunk displacement for all age groups. Providing lateral restraint via a sculpted vehicle seat was less effective as the geometry of the torso bolsters when inflated did not provide substantial lateral support.