Summary: Air Bag Interaction with and Injury Potential from Common Steering Control Devices, Phase II

Final Report, March 1998

This study, the second phase of a two-part effort, continued the exploration of the potential degradation in crash safety due to steering control devices (SCDs) mounted to the steering wheel rim. Testing in this phase consisted of seven static air bag deployments tests using six different air bags, four static air bag tests on an out-of-position 5th percentile female dummy, 15 pendulum impact tests and five 49 km/h sled tests. Test subjects included a male Hybrid III 50th percentile dummy and a female Hybrid III 5th percentile dummy. A separate study using a single male cadaver of average stature is referenced. The results supported the Phase I findings that SCDs do not compromise air bag performance and are not ejected by air bag deployment. As in Phase I, the test results indicated that contact with certain SCDs could severely injure a driver in a frontal collision. An alternative, less injurious, SCD concept design was developed and tested. This design produced significantly lower peak contact pressure and less potential for chest injury. In-vehicle testing and survey of SCD manufacturers and prescribers confirmed that the new design was sufficiently rigid for operational loads. Using both Phase I and Phase II results, recommendations were formulated for SCDs that would limit the potential for driver injury in a crash.