Effects of vehicle impact velocity, vehicle front-end shapes on pedestrian injury risk

Traffic Inj Prev. 2012 Sep;13(5):507-18. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2012.661111.


Objective: This study aimed at investigating the effects of vehicle impact velocity, vehicle front-end shape, and pedestrian size on injury risk to pedestrians in collisions with passenger vehicles with various frontal shapes.

Method: A series of parametric studies was carried out using 2 total human model for safety (THUMS) pedestrian models (177 and 165 cm) and 4 vehicle finite element (FE) models with different front-end shapes (medium-size sedan, minicar, one-box vehicle, and sport utility vehicle [SUV]). The effects of the impact velocity on pedestrian injury risk were analyzed at velocities of 20, 30, 40, and 50 km/h. The dynamic response of the pedestrian was investigated, and the injury risk to the head, chest, pelvis, and lower extremities was compared in terms of the injury parameters head injury criteria (HIC), chest deflection, and von Mises stress distribution of the rib cage, pelvis force, and bending moment diagram of the lower extremities.

Result: Vehicle impact velocity has the most significant influence on injury severity for adult pedestrians. All injury parameters can be reduced in severity by decreasing vehicle impact velocities. The head and lower extremities are at greater risk of injury in medium-size sedan and SUV collisions. The chest injury risk was particularly high in one-box vehicle impacts. The fracture risk of the pelvis was also high in one-box vehicle and SUV collisions. In minicar collisions, the injury risk was the smallest if the head did not make contact with the A-pillar.

Conclusion: The vehicle impact velocity and vehicle front-end shape are 2 dominant factors that influence the pedestrian kinematics and injury severity. A significant reduction of all injuries can be achieved for all vehicle types when the vehicle impact velocity is less than 30 km/h. Vehicle designs consisting of a short front-end and a wide windshield area can protect pedestrians from fatalities. The results also could be valuable in the design of a pedestrian-friendly vehicle front-end shape. [Supplementary materials are available for this article. Go to the publisher's online edition of Traffic Injury Prevention for the following free supplemental resource: Head impact conditions and injury parameters in four-type vehicle collisions and validation result of the finite element model of one-box vehicle and minicar. ].

MeSH terms

  • Acceleration*
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adult
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / etiology
  • Finite Element Analysis
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / injuries
  • Male
  • Models, Biological
  • Motor Vehicles / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pelvis / injuries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Thoracic Injuries / etiology
  • Walking / injuries*
  • Wounds and Injuries / etiology*