How to Decrease Pedestrian Injuries: Conceptual Evolutions Starting From 137 Crash Tests

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The improvement of vulnerable users’ protection has become an essential objective for our society. Injury assessments observed in clinical traumatology have led researchers and manufacturers to understand the mechanisms involved and to design safe vehicles (to reduce the severity of pedestrian injuries).


In all, 137 crash tests between 1979 and 2004 with postmortal human subjects (PMHS) were performed at the Laboratory of Applied Biomechanics to access pedestrian protection. A retrospective analysis of these experimental tests, pedestrian/car impacts (full scale or subsystems), performed at the laboratory is thus proposed. This document focuses on injury mechanisms investigation on the evolution of the experimental approach, as well as on the vehicles’ technological improvements performed by car manufacturers.


The analysis of experimental results (injury assessment, kinematics, vehicle deformations, etc.) shows the complexity and variety of injury mechanisms. The injury assessment shows the need to improve lower-limb joints protection, as well as head and spine segments, because of the difficulties of surgical repair of these injuries.


Experimental tests contribute to evaluate the automobile safety evolution in the field of pedestrian protection. The main induced car improvements concern considerable efforts on vehicle material behavior and their capacity to dissipate energy during shocks (replacement of the convex rigid bumpers by deformable structures, modification of the windscreen structure). They also concern the suppression of all aggressive structures for the pedestrian (spare wheel initially placed on the front part of the vehicle, protection of the heels of windscreen wiper, etc.).

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