The interaction of the face with the steering system in crash testing is receiving increased attention as lap/shoulder belt restraint use increases and supplemental inflatable restraintsf or drivers arei ntroduced. The impact response of the face of the test dummy is important for accurate assessment of both facial and brain injury potential. A number of facial injury assessment techniques have been proposed in recent years, including modifications to the Hybrid III face. However, none of the techniques were completely successful in producing biomechanically realistic forces and deflections when loaded by simulated steering wheel rims or hubs.
This paper reviews previously proposed facial injury assessment techniques with emphasis on the biomechanical realism of each of the procedures. In addition, biomechanical data on the response of the face to localized and distributed loads are analyzed to provide performance goals for a biomechanically realistic face. A new GM-Research modification to the Hybrid III dummy face is described, which produces biomechanically realistic frontal impact response and provides for contact force determination using conventional Hybrid III instrumentation. The modification retains the anthropometric and inertial properties and the forehead impact response of the standard Hybrid III head. It consists of a new facial skin molding overlying a deformable element that is replaced after each impact. Residual deflection of the element allows post-impact estimation of the loaded area. The magnitude and location of facial contact force is calculated through post-test processing of head accelerations and neck loads. Data demonstrating the utility of the prototype facial structure in steering system injury assessment tests are presented.