Development of head protection for car occupants
McLean et al. (1997) demonstrated that energy absorbing headwear for car occupants might be effective in reducing the numbers of head injuries sustained by car occupants. They estimated that the benefits were greater than the estimated benefits of padding of the upper interior of vehicles to the requirements of the US Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 201. This paper will describe the development of head protection for car occupants (the RARU Headband) that would protect the head of an occupant in a crash. The development process included the testing of candidate materials, the construction of prototypes and ultimately the evaluation of the prototypes according to test methods outlined in FMVSS 201. The evaluation was made by attaching the headband to a free motion headform, and firing the headform at 24 km/h at an unpadded beam that had similar characteristics to a vehicle A-pillar, simulating a frontal collision. Three beams of varying stiffness were used to examine the protective effect of the headband over a range of impact severities. The protective effect was measured by comparing the impact severity between impacts with and without the headband present. Results showed that the headband produced marked reductions in the Head Injury Criterion value compared to the unprotected headform. In beams that produced severe impacts with the unprotected headform, that exceeded the threshold set by FMVSS 201, the headband reduced the severity to safe levels. This study showed that head impact severities can be markedly reduced for car occupants by the use of moderate amounts of head protection in frontal impacts. Further evaluation is required for other impact directions. This study was completed for the Australian Transport Safety Bureau.