Occupant responses in conventional and ABTS seats in high-speed rear sled tests

Objective: This study compared biomechanical responses of a normally seated Hybrid III dummy on conventional and all belts to seat (ABTS) seats in 40.2 km/h (25 mph) rear sled tests. It determined the difference in performance with modern (≥2000 MY) seats compared to older (<2000 MY) seats and ABTS seats.

Methods: The seats were fixed in a sled buck subjected to a 40.2 km/h (25 mph) rear sled test. The pulse was a 15 g double-peak acceleration with 150 ms duration. The 50th percentile Hybrid III was lap–shoulder belted in the FMVSS 208 design position. The testing included 11 <2000 MY, 8 ≥2000 MY, and 7 ABTS seats. The dummy was fully instrumented, including head accelerations, upper and lower neck 6-axis load cells, chest acceleration, thoracic and lumbar spine load cells, and pelvis accelerations. The peak responses were normalized by injury assessment reference values (IARVs) to assess injury risks. Statistical analysis was conducted using Student's t test. High-speed video documented occupant kinematics.

Results: Biomechanical responses were lower with modern (≥2000 MY) seats than older (<2000 MY) designs. The lower neck extension moment was 32.5 ± 9.7% of IARV in modern seats compared to 62.8 ± 31.6% in older seats (P =.01). Overall, there was a 34% reduction in the comparable biomechanical responses with modern seats. Biomechanical responses were lower with modern seats than ABTS seats. The lower neck extension moment was 41.4 ± 7.8% with all MY ABTS seats compared to 32.5 ± 9.7% in modern seats (P =.07). Overall, the ABTS seats had 13% higher biomechanical responses than the modern seats.

Conclusions: Modern (≥2000 MY) design seats have lower biomechanical responses in 40.2 km/h rear sled tests than older (<2000 MY) designs and ABTS designs. The improved performance is consistent with an increase in seat strength combined with improved occupant kinematics through pocketing of the occupant into the seatback, higher and more forward head restraint, and other design changes. The methods and data presented here provide a basis for standardized testing of seats. However, a complete understanding of seat safety requires consideration of out-of-position (OOP) occupants in high-speed impacts and consideration of the much more common, low-speed rear impacts.