Cars are generally designed around 'average' male occupants. This can cause difficulties for the smallest of drivers in operating the vehicle controls and possibly reduce the protection offered by the vehicle's safety systems. The closeness of such drivers to the steering wheel and its airbag is of particular concern.
This research project will assess the problems encountered by small drivers before exploring how vehicle design could deliver improvements to make vehicles more acceptable and safer for small drivers.
The research will also consider the scope for providing after-market kits for adapting existing vehicles.
The objective being to ensure that all drivers are well protected and are able to drive their vehicle safely, taking into account their size or seating position.
The project objectives are to:
- assess the increased risk of serious or fatal injury to drivers in the shortest 5% band;
- highlight the vehicle design features that influence the risk to smaller drivers, and quantify their effect where possible; and
- based on the results of the above, develop a rating system which can be used to assess one car design against another with regard to suitability for small drivers.