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Publication Details

TitlePedestrian headform testing: inferring performance at impact speeds and for headform masses not tested, and estimating average performance in a range of real-world conditions
AuthorsHutchinson TP, Anderson RWG, Searson DJ
TypeJournal Article
AbstractObjective: Tests are routinely conducted where instrumented headforms are projected at the fronts of cars to assess pedestrian safety. Better information would be obtained by accounting for performance over the range of expected impact conditions in the field. Moreover, methods will be required to integrate the assessment of secondary safety performance with primary safety systems that reduce the speeds of impacts. Thus, we discuss how to estimate performance over a range of impact conditions from performance in one test and how this information can be combined with information on the probability of different impact speeds to provide a balanced assessment of pedestrian safety.

Method: Theoretical consideration is given to 2 distinct aspects to impact safety performance: the test impact severity (measured by the head injury criterion, HIC) at a speed at which a structure does not bottom out and the speed at which bottoming out occurs. Further considerations are given to an injury risk function, the distribution of impact speeds likely in the field, and the effect of primary safety systems on impact speeds. These are used to calculate curves that estimate injuriousness for combinations of test HIC, bottoming out speed, and alternative distributions of impact speeds.

Results: The injuriousness of a structure that may be struck by the head of a pedestrian depends not only on the result of the impact test but also the bottoming out speed and the distribution of impact speeds. Example calculations indicate that the relationship between the test HIC and injuriousness extends over a larger range than is presently used by the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), that bottoming out at speeds only slightly higher than the test speed can significantly increase the injuriousness of an impact location and that effective primary safety systems that reduce impact speeds significantly modify the relationship between the test HIC and injuriousness.

Conclusions: Present testing regimes do not take fully into account the relationship between impact severity and variations in impact conditions. Instead, they assess injury risk at a single impact speed. Hence, they may fail to differentiate risks due to the effects of bottoming out under different impact conditions. Because the level of injuriousness changes across a wide range of HIC values, even slight improvements to very stiff structures need to be encouraged through testing. Indications are that the potential of autonomous braking systems is substantial and needs to be weighted highly in vehicle safety assessments.

Journal TitleTraffic Injury Prevention
Journal Volume (Issue)13(4)
Page Range402-411

Hutchinson TP, Anderson RWG, Searson DJ (2012) 'Pedestrian headform testing: inferring performance at impact speeds and for headform masses not tested, and estimating average performance in a range of real-world conditions', Traffic Injury Prevention, 13(4), pp 402-411.