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Air Bags and Infants - The Need for Placing Rear-Facing Infants in the Back Seat Brings About Accident-Causing Distractions Dan Goor - XSCI, Inc. Sheldon Lee Stucki - SEIS, Inc. March 5, 2001
Current Air Bag Crash Environment • Overall, air bags are effective in saving lives.As of 4/1/2000 about 5,000 lives (NHTSA) • Certain occupants may be “at risk” when too close to deploying air bag • Recent air bags with de-powering, dual stage inflation, etc., have reduced the problem
Occupants Most “At Risk” from Air Bags • Small drivers with seat positioned near air bag module. • Unbelted child passengers sitting near the air bag and/or with pre-crash events. • Infants in rear-facing CSS’s placed near or against the air bag, due to configuration.
Air Bags and Infants in Rear-Facing Child Seats (RFCSS) • 18 infants in RFCSS’s killed by air bags, projected 15 killed annually with 98 fleet. • Even “low” inflation air bags may be hazardous to infants in RFCSS’s • Back seat safest but parents still place infants in front seat with air bags despite warnings.
Reasons Parents Place Infants in the Front Seat - Fraser Group Study • 59% felt that infants in RFCSS’s in the back seat are very distracting and 31% somewhat distracting. • 69% felt that it was much easier to care for infants in RFCSS’s in the front seat and 25% somewhat easier.
Reasons Parents Place Infants in the Front Seat - Fraser Group Study • 79.5% felt that infants in RFCSS’s in the back seat could be distracting enough to cause crashes. • 83% felt that infants in RFCSS’s in the front seat are less apt to cause accidents than infants in RFCSS’s in the back seat.
Development of an “Air Bag Safe” RFCSS • Current RFCSS’s unable to withstand air bag deployment forces and protect infant. • New design incorporates structural rigidity, energy absorption & geometry improvements to withstand forces of air bag deployment and protect the infant.
Benefits of Using “Air Bag Safe” RFCSS in Front Seat • Reduce/eliminate fatalities from deploying air bags. • Reduce crashes/injuries/fatalities by removing rear seat distractions. • Provide further protection to infants in all crashes
Estimate Benefits of Using “Air Bag Safe” RFCSS in Front Seat • Estimate % crashes caused by distraction to driver by infants in RFCSS’s in rear seat. • Estimate current injuries/fatalities reduced by moving infants to front seat. • Adjust injury/fatality savings by applying higher risk for moving to front seat.
Infants in Child Safety Seats by Location and Environment “On-Road” - 19 City Study, 1990-1991 “In Crashes” – 1990-1991 NASS GES
Benefits of Removing Rear Seat Distractions • Crash involvement rate per on road vehicle 33 % lower for infants in the front seat compared to rear seat. • Assume that injuries and fatalities are reduced by the same 33 % if infants are in front seat.
Conclusions • Infants in RFCSS’s are still “at risk” from air bag deployment. • A new design for a RFCSS will provide protection with air bag deployment. • Moving infants to the front seat may reduce crashes by 33 % by removing distractions.