An investigation into low speed rear impacts of automobiles

Robert William Thomson
A substantial number of whiplash injuries are reported for motor vehicle accidents which produce little or no structural damage to the automobile. These injuries are predominantly associated with rear-end type accidents affecting passengers of the struck vehicle. Since passengers of the striking vehicles are not reporting as many injuries for the same accidents, occupant and vehicle dynamics experienced during low speed-rear impacts were proposed to be a major source of the whiplash claims. A
more » ... hiplash claims. A review of previous research revealed that little information exists for this type of accident. In general, vehicle safety research and government regulations have been directed towards occupant mortality - not injury - in frontal collisions. Occupant dynamics research has been limited to sled testing, using modified seat structures, or out-of-date vehicle models. Full scale, rear impact, crash testing has concentrated on high impact speeds (above 30 km/h) where significant structural deformation occurs. A research program was designed to investigate the occupant and vehicle dynamics during low speed - rear impacts. Experimental research was undertaken to document the structural performance of vehicles, noting the impact speeds necessary to initiate the crush mechanisms in the rear portion of the vehicle. To facilitate this testing, a pendulum impactor, based on the government test procedures, was designed and built to consistently reproduce impact speeds below 20 km/h. A total of 56 rear impact tests were conducted with 1977-1982 Volkswagen Rabbits. The vehicle wheels were locked to represent a vehicle stopped in traffic - the most commonly reported whiplash producing accident. An anthropometric test dummy was used to represent a front seat passenger during the tests. High speed video recordings of the tests were digitized to provide kinematic information on the occupant and vehicle response. Accelerometers were incorporated into the last 24 tests to monitor the acceleration levels at the bumper mount, seat mount and wi [...]
doi:10.14288/1.0098603 fatcat:pmh6mgoeqzgr3n4uyh5gp6sxny