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Adaptive seat to reduce neck injuries for female and male occupants

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Reducing whiplash risk for women

Until a recent EU project, crash test dummies model have been male-shaped, yielding car seats safer for men than women. A new virtual female dummy will help make seats safer for all.

Industrial Technologies icon Industrial Technologies

Whiplash neck injuries in car crashes affect 800 000 EU citizens annually, resulting in serious long-term suffering in about 5 % of cases. Whiplash also accounts for around 70 % of the cost for personal injuries from vehicle crashes, the economic cost in EU is approximately EUR 10 billion per year. Furthermore, women are more likely to sustain these injuries. The EU-project ''Adaptive seat to reduce neck injuries for female and male occupants'' (ADSEAT), which ran from October 2009 to March 2013, aimed to reverse this imbalance. The project''s tests confirmed that contemporary seat designs can have substantially different effects on men and women in rear-impact crashes. Conventional crash test dummies equate to an average male — a form which is very atypical for females. Through using male crash test dummies, car seats have become safer overall; however, their risk reduction is larger for men compared to to women. ADSEAT concluded that there is room for improvement in both seat design and testing. However, even if car seat manufacturers wanted to test appropriately for females, no suitable dummies exist. ADSEAT compiled averages for female shapes and weight distributions, and studied the interaction of female torsos with seatbacks in collisions. The result was the world''s first female-shaped virtual dummy model, EvaRID (Eva female, Rear Impact Dummy). In addition to a virtual dummy model, ADSEAT developed prototype hardware dummy model representing an average women in terms of weight and height. All data needed in order to develop a hardware dummy model of an average female is available from the results of the ADSEAT project If such a dummy is developed it would permit side-by-side testing with conventional male dummies, ensuring that future testing leads to cars safer for all. Project work was disseminated through the project website, at conference presentations and via miscellaneous publications such as newsletters and brochures. In addition, the work resulted in significant papers in peer-reviewed journals, plus one PhD thesis. Popular television programmes reviewed ADSEAT''s results, reaching an estimated European audience of 5 million. This research has greatly facilitated biomechanical investigation pertinent to whiplash injury in women. Adoption of new testing standards, incorporating male and female dummies, should lead to improvements in car safety and a resulting annual savings to Europe of around EUR 2 billion.

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