Effect of seat belt and head restraint on occupant’s response during rear-end collision


Current neck injury criteria used to evaluate whiplash injuries are based on the kinematics or kinetics of the occupant’s head and neck during rear impacts. The occupant’s response is affected by many factors including impact severity, seat design and occupant related factors such as gender and posture. Most of the current finite element models are concerned with modeling the head and neck, ignoring the interaction of the seat with the occupant during rear collision. In this work the Global Human Body Model Consortium (GHBMC) finite element model was used to study these interaction effects with emphases on the effect of seat belt, headrest and seat stiffness on the occupant’s response during rear-end collisions and evaluate the response using three neck injury criteria. The study shows the dramatic importance of the occupant’s seat restraint and head rest upon occupant safety. Specifically, the occupant ramping during rear impacts can be prevented by using the seat belt. Furthermore, the headrest reduces the head displacement and rotation. Our work further reveals that the head displacement reduction can lead to higher moments, axial and shear forces at the neck, especially for cases involving poorly adjusted or stiffer headrest.

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This paper was made possible by NPRP grant #6 - 292 - 2 - 127 from the Qatar National Research Fund (a member of Qatar Foundation). The statements made herein are solely the responsibility of the authors. The authors also wish to acknowledge the Global Human Body Model Consortium (exclusively distributed by Elemance LLC Winston Salem, NC, USA) for using the 50th percentile seated male FE model. Finally, the authors wish to thank Dr. Stewart McLachlin for his help obtaining the GHBMC FE model.

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Correspondence to S. A. Meguid.

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Hassan, M.T.Z., Meguid, S.A. Effect of seat belt and head restraint on occupant’s response during rear-end collision. Int J Mech Mater Des 14, 231–242 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10999-017-9373-6

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  • Whiplash
  • Injury
  • Rear-impacts
  • Finite element
  • Seat belt
  • Headrest