This report examines the principles which should govern the design of cars and safety devices to prevent or reduce injury to the occupants of a car in an accident. Head-on impacts are the most important type of collision against which protection is required and it can best be provided by designing the car and the safety device as a single system. The main conclusions drawn is that passenger safety in accidents is most effectively increased by using improved seat belts or other close fitting devices in conjunction with stronger and better shaped passenger compartments. Elaborate re-design of the whole vehicle, without including seat belts or their equivalents, affords much less protection. The crushing characteristics of the car front are usually of minor importance unless the occupant wears a seat belt. For optimum results any alteration in the characteristics should be related to the load/extension characteristics of the seat belts and the space available for the belt to stretch. Protection against side impact is given by increasing the strength of the passenger compartment. Since rear impacts are usually less severe than frontal ones, the forces on car occupants, whether wearing seat belts or not, can be reduced by making the rear end structure more easily crushable than the front. (A)

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