European regulations regarding the protection of car occupants are regularly revised and updated to mirror the latest biomechanical knowledge. However, assessment of the actual performance of vehicles in terms of protection against frontal impacts is still undertaken using crash test dummies dating back to the seventies. Those frontal crash dummies developed in the US face a couple of limitations for injury assessment, so adapting newly developed crash test dummies for standard test procedures is necessary.
ADRIA aimed to reduce casualties in the EC among vehicle occupants in the most hazardous accident type, i.e. frontal collisions. This objective was related to a European regulation for the protection of car occupants in frontal impacts that was to become effective during 1998.
The main objectives of ADRIA have been:
- to recommend a design of a biofidelic crash dummy face, enabling facial injury assessment in frontal collisions;
- to evaluate the current Head Injury Criterion (HIC) in view of new computer simulation technologies for brain injury mechanisms;
- to assess the suitability of a new frontal crash dummy developed in the US (THOR) for application under European conditions;
- to assess the suitability of new lower leg dummy components;
- to develop recommendations for new injury tolerance levels under European conditions.
ADRIA has produced:
- a methodology to identify head injury mechanisms and to evaluate the current head injury criterion (HIC), based on the analysis and reconstruction of real world car accidents that have caused head injuries;
- tests, utilising so-called post mortem human surrogate (PHMS) specimens, increasing the biomechanical knowledge on the dynamic response and tolerance of the human face under realistic impact conditions;
- comparative test results for three advanced test dummy faces (GM face, Volvo's DLSF and the new THOR face dummy from the US), evaluating results against findings from PHMS testing;
- an in-depth, retrospective accident analysis to investigate the types and mechanisms of lower leg (leg, foot and ankle) injuries sustained by car occupants in frontal collisions;
- a series of biomechanical tests on volunteer and PHMS legs - including pendulum tests on toe, heel and feet, and sled tests simulating footwell intrusion;
- an evaluation of the possible use of the new (US) THOR frontal crash test dummy in European legislative testing, which showed its suitability in principle, despite deficiencies in the durability and handling of the dummy.
The project's findings on the usability of new crash test dummies, such as the THOR face dummy and the THORIx leg dummy, need to be thoroughly evaluated and validated against the current Hybrid-III test dummy, before a next generation crash test dummy can be introduced for European legislative testing.