Enhancing Occupant Protection in Side Impact Automobile Crashes
Introduction Pelvic fractures account for about 12% of injuries suffered in side impact motor vehicle accidents. The direct mechanism of the crash and resulting injury involves the door of the vehicle on the impacted side being punched into the occupant's pelvis and thorax. Pelvic fracture and rib damage along with internal organ injuries are the likely result. Several strategies have been employed to reduce side impact injury, including door side impact beams, stiffening of the door, increasing occupant-to door distance, door padding and side airbags. However, the effectiveness of each of these approaches is debatable, particularly in cases where the collision involves a SUV and a car. Technology description Researchers at the UW have designed and tested a novel structure and system for enhancing occupant protection in side impact automobile crashes. Business opportunity Side impact crashes represented, in 2002, 26% of all fatal collisions (second only to frontal crashes) with an estimated total of 782,000 nonfatal and 9812 fatal injuries. The mortality rate from motor vehicle induced pelvic injury ranges from 8.6% to 50%, with 25%-35% of survivors having unsatisfactory results after treatment. Compared to patients in motor vehicle crashes without pelvic injury, those with pelvic injury were significantly more injured, had higher blood loss, longer hospital stays, more genitourinary injuries, and higher mortality rates. The U.S. DOT has proposed a major regulatory revision of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard concerning passenger impact protection, which could become a final rule as early as 2005, with a phase- in for all new vehicles within four years. The technology disclosed herein should satisfy these new regulations. Stage of development Initial data and working prototypes exist for this technology. Research is ongoing and fullscale, federally certified side impact tests are planned. Intellectual property position The UW has applied for patent protection to secure the rights to this technology.
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