Injury risk for rear-seated occupants in small overlap crashes

Ann Adv Automot Med. 2013;57:267-80.


Small overlap crashes, where the primary crash engagement is outboard from the longitudinal energy absorbing structures of the vehicle, have received recent interest as a crash dynamic that results in high likelihood of injury. Previous analyses of good performing vehicles showed that 24% of crashes with AIS 3+ injuries to front seat occupants were small overlap crashes. However, similar evaluations have not been conducted for those rear seated. Vehicle dynamics suggest that rear seat occupants may be at greater risk due to lack of lateral seating support and a steering wheel to hold, making them more sensitive to lateral movement seen in these crashes. Thus, the objective was to calculate injury risk for rear-seated occupants in small overlap collisions. AIS 2+ and AIS 3+ injury risk was calculated from NASS-CDS data from 2000-2011. Inclusion criteria were vehicles of model year 2000 or later, with CDC codes of "FL" or "FR", and an occupant in the second or third row. AIS2+ injury risk was 5.1%, and AIS3+ injury risk was 2.4%. Of note, half of the occupants were <15 years of age indicating rear seat protection should emphasize the young. Occupants seated near side were nearly three times as likely to sustain an AIS2+ injury than occupants seated far side. Particular attention should be paid to the prominence of head injuries in this crash dynamic and consideration given to their mitigation. Additional research should determine whether countermeasures being implemented for front seat occupants can be beneficial to rear seat occupants.