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A pilot study of occupant accommodation and seat belt fit for law enforcement officers


In: SAE International, Warrendale, PA; DOI: 10.4271/2016-01-1504

Authors: Monica L. H. Jones, Sheila Ebert-Hamilton, Matthew Reed

Law enforcement officers (LEO) make extensive use of vehicles to perform their jobs, often spending large portions of a shift behind the wheel. Few LEO vehicles are purpose-built; the vast majority are modified civilian vehicles. Data from the field indicate that LEO suffer from relatively high levels musculoskeletal injury that may be due in part to poor accommodation provided by their vehicles. LEO are also exposed to elevated crash injury risk, which may be exacerbated by a compromise in the performance of the occupant restraint systems due to body-borne equipment. A pilot study was conducted to demonstrate the application of three-dimensional anthropometric scanning and measurement technology to address critical concerns related to vehicle design. Detailed posture and belt fit data were gathered from five law enforcement officers as they sat in the patrol vehicles that they regularly used and in a mockup of a mid-sized vehicle. The size and shape of the officers was measured with and without police uniform and duty belt using standard anthropometry techniques and a whole-body laser scanner. The new methods provide high-resolution data on posture, body shape, and belt fit for LEO that has not previously been addressed in seat and vehicle design. Pilot data results demonstrated that an exemplar vehicle accommodated the officers poorly and that belt fit was adversely affected due to interference between the seat or other vehicle features and the body borne gear. A large-scale, population-based study aimed at developing seat and vehicle design guidelines using three-dimensional anthropometric techniques is needed.

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