Studies have shown that dummies can be used to study various issues relating to an unrestrained driver's interaction with the steering system in frontal crashes. However, current dummies have limitations in simulation of car occupants and to assess the spectrum of injury types and mechanisms. Human cadaver subjects were used to study abdominal injury and “severe” steering wheel deformation as part of an evaluation of energy absorbing steering systems.
A predominant factor influencing abdominal injury in these tests was the impact location of the lower rim, injury being associated with the rim aligned 50 mm below the xiphoid. The dummies developed approximately twice the impact force than the cadaver subjects in these severe tests with a noncompressible column, in part due to the chest of the dummies “bottoming” out on a rigid spine. Flexibility of the human spine resulted in the cadaver “inverting” the steering wheel rim below the hub in the most severe test with a noncompressible column. In contrast, the dummies did not invert the wheel rim inspite of much greater impact force. However, wheel deformations caused by the Hybrid III dummy were closer to those from the cadaver tests than wheel deformations caused by the Part 572 dummy.