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Predicting proximity of driver head and thorax to the steering wheel

In: International Technical Conference on Experimental Safety Vehicles. Sixteenth. Proceedings. Volume I. Washington, D.C., NHTSA, 1998, p. 245-254

Authors: Miriam A. Manary, Lawrence W. Schneider, Matthew P. Reed, Carol A. C. Flannagan

The distance between the driver and the steering wheel airbag module at the time of deployment has been identified as an important factor affecting the frequency and severity of airbag-induced injuries. Pre-crash positioning may influence the clearance at the time of deployment. Data from in-vehicle studies of driving posture were analyzed to determine the clearance between the steering wheel and the driver’s head and chest in normal driving postures. Driving postures of over four hundred men and women were recorded in twenty-two different vehicle conditions representing a wide range of seat heights, steering-wheel-to-pedal distances, and seat cushion angles. The data were used to generate predictive statistical models of the distribution of clearances between the driver’s torso and the steering wheel. The findings have implications for vehicle design and airbag-injury countermeasures.