The Effects of Vehicle Seatback Mobility on the Acceleration of Passengers in Rear-End Collisions

Despite current vehicle safety features, such as seatbelts and airbags, passengers often suffer spinal injuries in rear-end collisions. The purpose of this experiment was to test a new, different method of safety against the current features with hopes to decrease the acceleration experienced by passengers, and thus decrease the number of spinal injuries in rear-end collisions. Through small-scale crashes, vehicles were accelerated from behind to simulate rear-end collisions. A low-g accelerometer was attached to a small wooden block emulating a vehicle seatback and the block was inserted into a cart. Rubber bands of three different lengths were attached to the wooden block to provide different amounts of resistance; this altered the seatbacks extent of movement during the collisions. The cart was placed against a spring latch that was released to accelerate the cart. The maximum acceleration was recorded for each trial, and the measurements were averaged for each seatback design. Three two-sample t-tests were carried out to compare the mean maximum acceleration for each of the movable seatback designs to the mean maximum acceleration for the immobile seatback design. Analysis proved that there was a significant difference between the means of all three of the movable backrest designs and that of the non-movable one; each of the movable designs significantly decreased the acceleration of the seat. Such results imply that if seats with movable backrests were implemented into vehicles, the number of spinal injuries in rear-end collisions would significantly decrease.

Research Done By:

Alex Kluz
Sterling Heights High School

Eric Yoskovich
Cousino High School