The frontal impact safety of cars sold in Europe is regulated by the performance requirements of UNECE Regulation 94. This car crash test procedure includes two crash test dummies that represent an average sized (50th percentile) male driver and front seat passenger. However, recent research has indicated that vehicles and occupant restraint systems may be optimised to protect the average sized male at this collision severity.
This study was undertaken to identify the possible casualty gains that might be achieved for female, older or small stature occupants if the legislative test was altered to use a 5th percentile (small) female dummy or a 95th percentile (large) male. The potential gains that could be realised by using injury criteria or performance requirements that better represent older occupants were also evaluated, as well as the potential disbenefits for currently well protected occupants that might occur as a result of these changes. Finally, the effect on casualty numbers that might be achieved through the introduction of advanced “smart” restraint systems was considered.
A programme of crash tests was undertaken in collaboration with a Tier 1 restraint system supplier. The information from this test programme, as well as from a state of the-art review, was used to determine the potential effects that different restraint options may have on different occupants in frontal impact collisions. This was further used to define the potential benefits and disbenefits that may result from the following possible changes to the Regulation 94 test procedure.

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