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Misuse of airbag deactivation when children are travelling in the front passenger seat

  • Within the process of integrating passenger airbags in the vehicle fleet a problem of compatibility between the passenger airbag and rear-facing child restraint systems was recognised. Especially in the US several accidents with children killed by the passenger airbag were recorded. Taking into account these accidents the deactivation of a present passenger airbag is mandatory if a child is carried in a rear-facing child restraint system at the front passenger seat in all member states of the European Union. This rule is in force since the deadline of 2003/20/EC at the latest. In the past a passenger airbag either could not be disabled or could only be disabled by a garage. Today there are a lot of different possibilities for the car driver himself to disable the airbag. Solutions like an on/off-switch or the automatic detection of a child restraint system are mentioned as an example. Taking into account the need for the deactivation of front passenger airbags two types of misuse can occur: transportation of an infant while the airbag is (still) enabled and transportation of an adult, while the airbag is disabled, respectively. Within a research project funded by BASt both options of misuse were analysed utilising two different types of surveys amongst users (field observations and interviews, Internet-questionnaires). In addition both analysis of accident data and crash tests for an updated assessment of the injury risk caused by the front passenger airbag were conducted. Both surveys indicate a low risk of misuse. Most of the misuse cases were observed in older cars, which offer no easy way to disable the airbag. For systems, which detect a child seat automatically, no misuse could be found. The majority of misuses in cars equipped with a manual switch were caused by reasons of oblivion. Also the accident analysis indicates a minor risk of misuse. From more than 300 cases of the GIDAS accident sample that were analysed, only 24 children were using the front passenger seat in cars equipped with a front passenger airbag. In most of these cases the airbag was deactivated. When misuse occurred the injury severity was low. However, when analysing German single accidents the fatality risk caused by the front passenger airbag became obvious. From the technical point of view, there were important changes in the design of passenger airbags in recent years. Not only volume and shape were modified, but also the mounting position of the entire airbag module was changed fundamentally. Even if these findings do not allow obtaining general conclusions, a clear tendency of less danger by airbags could be identified. For future vehicle development a safe combination of airbags and rear faced baby seats seems to be possible in the long term. This would mean that both types of misuse could be eliminated. For parents an easier use of child seat and car would be the result.

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Author:Heiko Johannsen, Gerd Müller, Wolfgang Fastenmeier, Herbert Gstalter, Britta SchnottaleORCiD, Patrick Isermann
Document Type:Conference Proceeding
Date of Publication (online):2013/11/22
Year of first publication:2009
Contributing corporation:Veein für Fahrzeugsicherheit Berlin
Release Date:2013/11/22
Tag:Airbag; Bemessung; Benutzung; Fahrzeugsitz; Fehler; Kind; Konferenz; Unfall
Accident; Airbag; Child; Conference; Design (overall design); Error; Seat (veh); Use
außerdem beteiligt: Mensch-Verkehr-Umwelt, Institut für angewandte Psychologie, München; TKATA-PETRi Aktiengesellschaft.
Volltext: http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv21/09-0351.pdf
Source:Proceedings of the 21st International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles, June 15-18, 2009, Stuttgart, Germany
Institutes:Abteilung Fahrzeugtechnik / Abteilung Fahrzeugtechnik
Sonstige / Sonstige
Dewey Decimal Classification:6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 62 Ingenieurwissenschaften / 620 Ingenieurwissenschaften und zugeordnete Tätigkeiten
collections:BASt-Beiträge / ITRD Sachgebiete / 91 Fahrzeugkonstruktion
BASt-Beiträge / Tagungen / International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) / 21st ESV Conference 2009

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