WHAT HAPPENS DURING A CRASH? The laws of physics say that an object in motion will stay in motion, with the same speed and direction, unless it is acted upon by an outside force. So if you are traveling at 60 MPH and your car hits a solid wall and comes to an immediate stop, your body will continue going at 60 MPH until it is stopped by, say, a seatbelt, airbag, or, at worst, a windshield. If the car has a rigid body, the rapid deceleration caused by the impact will produce injuries and fatalities. Because the stopping time is only a split second, the force on the passengers is very high.
WHY IS A NEW CRASH TEST DUMMY NECESSARY? Children from age four to eight often no longer use booster seats, but are many times more likely to sustain abdominal injuries than younger children. Seat belts are not designed for such small frames, and often rest too high, on the abdomen as opposed to along the hips. The new dummies are designed to represent the average six year old, and include an insert that mimics the hip shape of children, allowing researchers to perform experiments to improve seat belt design.
The American Industrial Hygiene Association, the American Physical Society, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., and the Materials Research Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.