Awarded Grant Traumatic Injury Biomechanics


Description: Current recommendations from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration advise that children should switch from rear-facing (RFCR) to forward-facing child restraints (FFCR) when they reach 1 year of age and 20 pounds. Preliminary data from Scandinavian countries with an older transition age, however, show a marked benefit for rear-facing restraints for children up to 4 years old. This project will evaluate the discrepancy between U.S. policy and foreign field experience and, if justified, develop guidelines and recommendations for a revised U.S. policy on the transition from RFCR to FFCR.

This project involves three mutually supportive research approaches. First, U.S. field data will be used to assess injury risk and define the crash and injury experience of children restrained by RFCR and FFCR. This analysis will provide guidelines for the subsequent proposed tasks. Second, a series of full-scale sled tests will be used to compare and contrast RFCR and FFCR over a range of the most important test conditions. Finally, computational modeling will be used to expand the research matrix to include the range of restraint, crash, and occupant conditions that cannot be assessed experimentally. At each stage of this research plan, an external advisory panel will assess the findings and the direction of the research. Once the field, experimental, and computational data are collected, compiled, and evaluated, a formal policy recommendation regarding automobile restraint use for children age 1 to 3 will be developed and disseminated.