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Life-threatening and disabling injuries in car-to-car side impacts—implications for development of protective systems

Accident Analysis & Prevention
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0001-4575(93)90060-a


Abstract Improvements to the passive safety of cars in lateral collisions are of great importance. This study of injuries in car side collisions in Sweden by the use of two evaluation methods has been performed to establish the basis for future development of protective systems for this type of accident. The Folksam car accident data file has been used. Injuries were found to be twice as common for near-side than for far-side ∗ ∗ Near side: occupant is on the struck side; far side: occupant is on the nonstruck side. occupants in car to car impacts. Serious to fatal (AIS 3–6) injuries to belted front seat occupants in near side impacts (10% of all injuries) were compared with the estimated number of injuries to different parts of the body with risk of serious consequences (RSC)—either deaths or permanent disabilities (4.5% of all injuries). The two injury evaluation methods resulted in different ranking orders. AIS 3–6 injuries were received by the chest (37%), abdomen/pelvis (25%), and the head (15%). The RSC method gave a ranking order of head (25%), neck (21%), leg (15%), chest (14%), and abdomen/pelvis (11%). The method of evaluating AIS 3–6 injuries emphasizes only the threat to life. The RSC method also takes into account the risk of disabilities. Injuries to the neck and the leg were found to be most disabling, whilst the injuries to the head, chest, and abdomen/pelvis were the most life threatening. The study also shows that elderly people receive significantly more chest injuries (relative to the number of head injuries), on average four times more than young people. Males receive twice as many chest injuries (relative to the number of head injuries) as females in near-side impacts. The implications from this study for the development of side-impact protective systems should be that such systems must improve protection all the way from the head to the leg for struck-side occupants. Protection of the chest should also take into account the reduced tolerance of injuries of elderly people.

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