CChIPS 2014-2015 Research Portfolio

·           Quantifying CRS Fit in the vehicle seat environment: Focusing on incompatibilities

Principal Investigator:  Amanda Agnew, PhD, Ohio State University

In an earlier CChIPS project, researchers pinpointed how often specific compatibility issues between CRS and vehicles occur in real-world situations. The most common problems included poor CRS base angle compatibility, interference with the head restraint, and the interaction between vehicle seat belts and CRS contours. This study aims to build from these results by investigating potential consequences on safety that these incompatibilities may cause. The long-term objective is to decrease the frequency of CRS misuse by providing formal evidence to support a few commonly accepted guidelines regarding CRS installation techniques. Producing formal documentation of these common issues and their consequences on safety will instill confidence in the CRS community and support the currently accepted guidelines of many CRS manufacturers and technicians.


·            Development of Methods for Quantifying Children’s Posture in the Rear Seat: a Naturalistic Study (Year 3)

Principal Investigator:  Kristy Arbogast, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

This project initiates a fundamental shift in the principles of protecting occupants in motor vehicle crashes by developing novel data collection and analysis methods to define how child passengers actually position (and reposition) themselves during motor vehicle trips. The long-term goal of this multi-year study is to improve test conditions and optimize restraint systems to mitigate injury to child occupants in real world crash scenarios. Researchers will use innovative data collection and analysis methods to observe and quantify the naturalistic positions of child occupants in cars and identify the injury effects of out-of-position status. Researchers will continue to analyze naturalistic data; identify the injury effect of out-of-position status through a series of sled tests; and further develop analytical methods to leverage the strengths of emerging technology. Study data will serve as the basis for development of both technological and education interventions to mitigate injuries due to sub-optimal positioning of children in the rear seat.


·           Evaluation of side impacts with a frontal component for children in CRS

Principal Investigator:  Kristy Arbogast, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has stated that side impact is the second leading crash mode, accounting for 26% of all fatal crashes for adults and children. Currently, federal regulations do not exist for child restraint systems (CRS) for side impact protection; however, in a January 2014 Federal Register, NHTSA published a Notice for Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) for protection of child occupants in nearside crashes. The purpose of this study is to explore the kinematics and injury criteria of the far- or center-seated CRS/ATD in side impact crashes with a frontal component to determine which conditions lead to increased head excursion. Outcomes from this research will be useful to evaluate the potential for head injury for a three-year-old center-seated ATD in a forward-facing CRS in a side impact with a forward component and understand design strategies for injury mitigation for children in CRS in automotive environments. In addition, this work will be complementary to those research findings expected to emerge over the next 6-12 months in response to the current NPRM on child occupant protection in side impact crashes, which considers various ATD measures in a nearside seating location, but not the nature of the kinematics in a far-side oblique configuration on ATD head excursion.


·         Quantifying CRS Fit in Vehicle Seat Environment - Digitization Approach (Year 2)

Principal Investigator:  Aditya Belwadi, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Automotive interior design optimization must balance the design of the vehicle seat and occupant space for safety, comfort and aesthetics with the accommodation of add-on restraint products such as child restraint systems (CRS). Important to this balance is understanding the breadth of CRS dimensions, especially as CRS design is constantly changing. Fr example, the introduction of side impact protection for CRS and emphasis on ease of  installation has changed key design points of many child restraints. This ever-changing target puts pressure on the vehicle manufacturers to keep their vehicle seats and occupant space compatible. In Year 1 of the CRS Fitment - Digitization project, sixty CRSs were scanned with a laser scanner along with 16 OEM drawings to represent over 252 CRS on the market as of March 2013. The relevant scanned drawings were then overlapped to create a “virtual surrogate” of a small rear facing CRS. Year 2 efforts will build on this work by creating virtual surrogates of other CRS types (forward facing, convertibles and boosters). The long-term objective of this research is to gain insight into the geometric dimensions of commercially available CRSs and develop a virtual surrogate capable of being used in the design cycle of an automobile for virtual fitment and packaging; thereby benefitting the end consumer.  


·         Side Airbag Interaction with Children Seated in the Vehicle Environment (Year 2)

Principal Investigator:  Aditya Belwadi, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

The long-term objective of this research is to assess whether side air bags (curtain and/or torso) provide a protective benefit for pediatric occupants in the rear seat environment in automobile crashes. The research should provide insight into the injury risk and causation of common injuries sustained by children involved in side impacts with a deploying side air bag. Specifically, the project aims to: determine the efficacy of roof rail mounted side curtain and seat mounted torso airbag on mitigating injury (AIS) in restrained pediatric occupants in simulated side impacts sled tests with anthropomorphic test devices (ATDs) and computational ATD model and human body models (HBMs).


·         Optimization of recline angle in rear-facing CRS

Principal Investigator:  John Bolte, PhD, Ohio State University

Rear-facing child restraint systems (RF CRS) are designed to absorb and distribute crash forces throughout the child’s back and into the CRS. The majority of RF CRS are meant to be installed with a recline angle around 30° to 45° from vertical. However, the origins of this guideline are not clear, nor are the consequences of straying from it. No sled data has been published regarding the effect of the recline angle on RF CRS performance and resulting injury values. In addition to optimizing the recline angle for crash protection effectiveness, the occupant’s age, size, and developmental progress also needs to be considered in order to determine the best possible recommendations for each age group. The long term research goal of this study is to optimize the recline angle of RF CRS to provide optimal crash safety in frontal impacts while considering the physiological needs of children in various stages of development. This study will contribute to the field’s understanding of the rotational kinematics and kinetics of RF CRS and the occupants secured within them.


·         Association between NCAP Ratings and Real-World Seat Occupant Risk of Injury

Principal Investigator:  Allison Curry, PhD, MPH, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Currently, little is known about the relationship between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) US New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) 5-star ratings and the real-world risk of injury to restrained rear seat occupants of all ages. The objective of this research is to investigate how NCAP’s current rating system predicts risk of serious and fatal injury to rear seat occupants. Researchers hypothesize that the performance of vehicles in protecting front seat occupants will be strongly associated with rear seat injury risk among restrained occupants in real-world crashes. The long-term goal is to identify priority areas to target for enhancements to the NHTSA NCAP test procedures and/or vehicle restraint system innovation in order to advance rear seat safety.


·         Effectiveness of Top Tether on Angular Kinematics of CRS and ATD in Side Impacts

Principal Investigator:  Yun Seok Kang, PhD, Ohio State University

Side impacts are the second most frequent type of collision and can cause serious head, neck, and chest injuries to pediatric occupants. Efforts have been made by child restraint system (CRS) manufacturers to improve the effectiveness of CRS in side impacts, and various methods of attaching the CRS to the vehicle structure have been developed and validated. The Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children (LATCH) system standardizes the method to attach CRS to vehicles without using a seat belt in the US. The top tether is a well-known safety tool that improves the fit of CRS to vehicles, yet its effectiveness on the angular kinematics of the CRS and occupant has not been well documented in side impacts. Therefore, the objectives of the study are to investigate the effectiveness of the top tether in side impacts by considering the angular kinematics of the CRS and ATD, and to find the relationship between the angular kinematics of the CRS and the injury measures of the ATD.


·         Effect of positive reinforcement on young drivers – a longitudinal study

Principal Investigator:  Yi-Ching Lee, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

New technologies such as in-vehicle monitoring systems offer the potential to improve safety by generating alerts and positive feedback when certain driving practices are detected. With the combination of positive feedback and motivational incentives, behaviors from risk-taking-prone teen and young drivers may be changed to be more positive and less risky. This study aims to understand the effect of positive reinforcement on the shaping of teen and youth driving behaviors by collecting on-road data and simulator-based driving performance. The gathered information has the potential to improve the current practices for tracking and monitoring in-vehicle behaviors used by motor vehicle companies as well as incentive strategies used by insurance companies. In addition, the research could enhance the theoretical foundation of behavioral change models and improve the quality of continuing education about safety. The results may also speak to the benefits of using personalized devices and adaptive feedback mechanisms for promoting positive safety behaviors among young drivers.


·         Machine Learning Techniques Predicting Driver Behavior

Principal Investigator:  Yi-Ching Lee, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Co-PI: Santiago Ontanon, Drexel University

Poor speed management is a key factor in teen driver crashes. In order to inform new training and technology to reduce teen crash risk due to poor speed management, a more complete understanding of this complex driving behavior is needed. Early results from our current CChIPS work indicate that machine learning techniques can be used to model drivers’ speed management behaviors. These techniques have the potential to become part of in-vehicle monitoring system that monitors and alerts drivers in potentially dangerous situations. The long-term goal of this research is to utilize state-of-the-art experimental and analytical techniques to create accurate models of teenage drivers’ behavior in order to inform the development and testing of new technology and training methodologies to improve teen driving and reduce risk.


·         Pediatric Brain Injury Assessment in Real World Crashes (Year 2)

Principal Investigator:  Matthew Maltese, PhD, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for all children, and traumatic brain

injuries (TBI) are the most common serious injuries sustained by children in motor vehicle crashes, both as vehicle occupants and pedestrians. The long term goal of this line of research is to elucidate the biomechanics of preadolescent pediatric traumatic brain injury, and improve capability and accuracy of the anthropomorphic test device (ATD), injury assessment, and computer modeling tools available to the automotive safety research and engineering community. This Year 2 project will further develop the 6 year old FEM brain model created in year 1 of this project, by adding a deformable skull, and then use this new brain model to answer key questions in pediatric head injury mitigation that are relevant to pediatric pedestrian and booster‐seated occupant safety. Through reconstructions of real world cases, we will demonstrate the robustness and utility of the model as a research and engineering design tool for the estimation of brain deformation in real‐world injury events, and thus facilitate the study of brain deformation on injury outcome in humans.


·         Dynamic Comparison of the Large Omni-Directional Child Anthropomorphic TestDevice to Pediatric Volunteers in Low-Speed Sled Tests

Principal Investigator:  Tom Seacrist, MS, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of fatal and non-fatal injury for children worldwide.  Mitigation of these injuries requires the use of biofidelic anthropomorphic test devices (ATD) to properly design and evaluate motor vehicle safety systems.  Traditionally, pediatric ATDs have been benchmarked against response corridors that have been scaled from adult biomechanical data, and often these scaling efforts were hindered by a lack of appropriate biomechanical data to adequately account for age-based material differences.  Recently, a large omni-directional child (LODC) ATD has been developed with modifications to critical areas including the shoulder, spine, and thorax to make the ATD response more child-like.  Assessing these modifications requires that the LODC ATD undergo biofidelic validation, which this study aims to conduct. Researchers will compare the LODC ATD’s dynamic response to pediatric volunteers in low speed frontal, far-side oblique, and far-side lateral sled tests. This effort will also help to fulfill the commitment in the FMVSS 213 final rule to continue pursuing research activities that may enhance the 10-year-old ATD.


·         Investigating Injuries in Pediatric Occupants for use in Automatic Crash Notification (Year 2)

Principal Investigator and Co-Principal Investigator:  Joel Stitzel, PhD, and Andrea Doud, MD, Wake Forest University & Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma

Involvement in motor vehicle crashes remains a leading cause of death and disability in children worldwide.  Though there has been a large focus of public awareness on the prevention of such injuries, less attention has been paid to the treatment of childhood injuries when prevention fails. The long-term goal of this project is to create a scoring system to determine the specific crash-related injuries in children that require treatment at designated trauma centers.  This information will be used to create an advanced automatic crash notification (AACN) system for pediatric occupants to improve triage. Researchers hypothesize that the need for a child to receive treatment at a designated trauma center depends upon the severity, time sensitivity, and predictability of the injuries the child sustains, which in turn are dependent upon the developmental stage of the child. For this reason, the main objective of Year 2 is to refine the severity, time sensitivity and predictability scores of the particular injuries sustained within each pediatric developmental group, determined during Year 1. Ultimately, researchers aim to create an AACN algorithm that will improve triage and outcomes, including mortality reduction, for pediatric occupants in motor vehicle crashes.



About This Center

This Center is made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) which unites CHOP, University of Pennsylvania, and The Ohio State University researchers with R&D leaders in the automotive and insurance industries to translate research findings into tangible innovations in safety technology and public education programs.

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