On March 19, 1997, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published a Final Rule amending FMVSS No. 208 to allow manufacturers to de-power air bags in their passenger vehicles. This is considered an interim solution to the problems associated with aggressive air bag deployments. Consequently, the amended rule has a sunset provision that removes the amendment, with the addition of “advanced” air bag requirements to be developed in the future.
As part of the process to develop test procedures, a study was conducted to test the capabilities of advanced air bag technologies, and evaluate less-aggressive air bags designed for a belted market in Australia. Testing consisted of static air bag deployments and dynamic HYGE sled and crash testing using Hybrid III adult and child dummies.
Advanced systems testing indicate that Multistage inflation can tailor bag deployments for the crash severity. However, it was still challenging for the platform tested to meet IARV’s when child dummies were out-of-position (OOP) relative to the air bag. The Holden air bag used in Commodore VS and VR models in Australia passed an FMVSS No. 208 full-frontal rigid barrier crash test with unbelted dummies, although lack of knee bolsters caused the dummies to submarine somewhat on the driver-side. OOP results were moderately aggressive on the driver-side and very aggressive on the passenger-side with the 3 and 6 year old dummies.