Minimizing Injury in Side Impact Crashes

Presenter: Rob Kaufman BS Crash Investigator CIREN Seattle CIREN - Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network

Road Safety
• Roadway and Infrastructure • Driver Behavior • Vehicle Design
– Crashworthiness

CIREN on the Web

Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network

Quarterly Presentations Electronic Cases (Queries) Injury Mechanism Themes Annual Reports

• Provide data on injuries occurring in real world crashes • Provide feedback on vehicle safety design for: – Auto manufacturers – FMVSS • Provide outreach and training • Determine and document specific injury mechanisms

Real world laboratory of motor vehicle crashes created by NHTSA in 1996. Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center is one of 10 trauma centers contributing to the network. ( NHTSA funded )


Trauma Surgery

Crash Biomechanics & Engineers


In the real world, it is real people - not crash test dummies. CIREN was created to learn and document real world injuries.

Traffic Safety Facts for Side Impacts
• In 2002 side impact crashes represented 26% of all fatal collisions
– second only to frontal crashes


• Estimated total of 782,000 nonfatal and 9812 fatal injuries.
– For surviving occupants
• • • • Chest injuries in 39.7% Head injuries in 25% Pelvic injuries in 11.7% Abdomen injuries in 8.4%

(Traffic Safety Facts, 2002, NHTSA, US Department of Transportation, DOT HS 809 100, Dec, 2000, p 106)

Intrusion increases occupant contact and severity of injury

Side impact standard improvements SS214

Lateral Impact Mechanism Reviews Intrusion = Injury
Thorax Abdominal LateralPelvis Bilateral Pelvis Combination

Use of side impact beams in doors


Results – NASS MAIS v Door intrusion
6 5 Maximum injury AIS 4 3 2 1 0 0 NASS Max AIS vs door intrusion

Side Impact Intrusion


12” 16”

y = 0.05x + 1.6 R2 = 0.9 60 80

- Lateral door intrusion - Chest and pelvis injuries occurred

40 Door intrusion (cm )

Lower Lateral Door Intrusion

Door panel intrusion = 45 cm/17.7inches Contact evidence on door and center console

Potential for pelvic fractures to occur

Door intrusion with a raised center console

Moderate and serious pelvic injury in nearside crashes by magnitude of intrusion
16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 3<8 cm 8<15 cm 15<30 cm Consoles 30<46 cm No console 46<61 cm >=61 cm

Light Truck Vehicle (LTV) and Side Impacts

LTV vs. compact/economical Some bumper heights create an upper door panel contact

Tencer A., Kaufman R., Mack C., Mock C. Factors affecting pelvic & thoracic forces in near-side impact crashes: a study of US-NCAP, NASS, and CIREN data. Accident Analysis and Prevention, In Press


Increasing LTV-Car Fatalities
NHTSA research paper#307-Summers, Hollowell,Prasad

Intrusion = Injury

Chest and head injuries may occur from greater bumper height of LTV

Side impact crash test

Side Impact - Vehicle Mismatch
- Front Seat Passenger - Elderly person - Lap/Shoulder belt - Struck by a large pickup - Lateral Direction of Force

Height of striking truck at chest and head

Upper door panel intrusion into chest and head

Upper door panel intrusion Case review

Sedan struck by large pickup truck
End View


AIS 2 3 4 2 2 Region Head Head Chest Abdomen Abdomen

Acierno S, Kaufman R, Mock C, Rivara F, Grossman D. Vehicle mismatch: Injury patterns and severity. Accident Analysis and Prevention 39 (2004) 761-772.

LTV Front into Side Passenger Vehicle

ISS = 29

AIS > 2

Side Impact - Abdominal Injuries (associated with the armrest)

Abdominal Injuries Observed
- Side impacts appear to increase the risk of abdominal injuries - The stiffness and geometry of the door panels along with the protruding components, such as the armrest appear to become forced into the abdomen of the occupant.


Head Injuries

Direct contact source for critical head injuries

A- A pillar B- B pillar D- Window sill E- Door panel F- Windshield Header


Nirula R, Mock CN, Kaufman R, Rivara FP, Grossman D. Correlation of head injury to vehicle contact points using Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN) data. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 35: 201-210, 2003.

C- Roof side rail


NHTSA Proposed Standard
Side Airbags Provide Head Protection

cement art structure

Side Airbag Head Protection

Door Mount Side Airbag

Rolled rearward and light impact to back bumper light pole






2 P P

2000 Sedan struck by large LTV Subject - Front Right Passenger


Upper chest and head appear to be protected by door mounted side impact airbag considering an LTV upper door impact.


1 cm = 2.5 M


Main protection to upper thorax, but extends enough upward for some head protection

Injury Summary

Head Injuries to Children in Side Impacts
Remember that children are exposed to more surface area for head contact in crashes.

Serious injuries occurred from intrusion


Children that are seated in vehicles expose themselves to more surface area for head contacts

Adults head contacts will occur to the greenhouse structure (roof and roof pillars)

Case review

Young child Front right passenger Manual lap, motorized shoulder belt used

Interior Contacts

Larger Vehicle and Side Impacts

Large vehicle types vs. compact/economical Serious head injury to child from contact

This becomes head contacts for children

CIREN Case Review

90’s Ford 20 mph Delta V
Side View End View

PDOF = 60 Struck by large pickup


Critical Head Injuries Side Impact Case review
Child Back right seat - fully restrained Sleeping with head against door 40 cm of intrusion at door panel, window sill Deformation from head contact

Head Injury Summary - Serious Brain Injury, AIS = 5

Inflatable Curtain
• The 6ft 6ins long bag is just over a foot deep and more than 2-inches thick • Booster seat may allow children benefit of side airbag

End View

40 cm of intrusion at door panel, window sill Deformation from head contact

Side impact with children in booster seats

Thank you & Please Buckle Up Everyone!!!!! Locate more CIREN info at:

Side impact with minimal head injury to child in booster seat

Head positioned above door interior



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