Relationship between pedestrian headform tests and injury and fatality rates in vehicle-to-pedestrian crashes in the United States

Mueller, Becky C. / Farmer, Charles M. / Jermakian, Jessica S. / Zuby, David S.
Stapp Car Crash Journal
November 2013

Pedestrian protection evaluations have been developed to encourage vehicle front-end designs that mitigate the consequences of vehicle-to-pedestrian crashes. The European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) evaluates pedestrian head protection with impacts against vehicle hood, windshield, and A-pillars. The Global Technical Regulation No. 9 (GTR 9), being evaluated for U.S. regulation, limits head protection evaluations to impacts against vehicle hoods. The objective of this study was to compare results from pedestrian head impact testing to the real-world rates of fatal and incapacitating injuries in U.S. pedestrian crashes. Data from police reported pedestrian crashes in 14 states were used to calculate real-world fatal and in-capacitating injury rates for seven 2002-07 small cars. Rates were 2.17-4.04 per 100 pedestrians struck for fatal injuries and 10.45-15.35 for incapacitating injuries. Euro NCAP style pedestrian headform tests were conducted against windshield, A-pillar, and hoods of the study vehicles. When compared with pedestrian injury rates, the vehicles’ Euro NCAP scores, ranging 5-10 points, showed strong negative correlations (-0.6) to injury rates, though none were statistically significant. Data from the headform impacts for each of the study vehicles were used to calculate that vehicle’s predicted serious injury risk. The predicted risks from both the Euro NCAP and GTR 9 test zones showed high positive correlations with the pedestrian fatal and incapacitat-ing injury rates, though few were statistically significant. Whether vehicle stiffness is evaluated on all components of vehicle front ends (Euro NCAP) or is limited to hoods (GTR 9), softer vehicle components correspond to a lower risk of fatality.