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What should ANCAP be assessing in the rear seat?

Brown, J, Beck, B, Bilston, L (Peer reviewed)

Vehicle Technology

ACRS conference 2011

The Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) currently includes two child crash test dummies restrained in child restraints in the rear of vehicles in frontal barrier testing and this is the only routine assessment of rear seat occupant in Australia. We are currently investigating the rear seat injury profile among injured car occupants in NSW, as well as studying specific rear seat injury mechanisms through in-depth crash investigation. This work indicates we need better assessment of rear seat safety in Australian vehicles. This paper explores the possibility of extending current ANCAP rear seat assessments and draws from our rear seat research program to examine what such an assessment might include.

Mass crash and hospital data, in depth investigations and laboratory testing of the rear seat in frontal impact and a recent analysis of the geometrical mismatch of rear seat occupants and the rear seat environment were reviewed. Relevant data was extracted and compiled to examine potential areas in which rear seat occupant protection could be adequately assessed.

The data suggests that there is little to be gained through the current ANCAP inclusion of two child dummies in child restraints in the rear. Including a dummy representing a larger child would be more beneficial but there are a number of limitations to be addressed in the design of available dummies in order for them to provide meaningful performance assessment. In the short term more direct static assessment of the rear seat environment may be a solution.