AN ASSESSMENT OF THE ACCIDENT EXPERIENCE OF FRONT SEAT OUTBOARD OCCUPANTS IN 1987-1989 MOTOR VEHICLES EQUIPPED WITH AUTOMATIC SEAT BELT SYSTEMS

In August 1990, the Center for Auto Safety (CAS) petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to open a defect investigation limited to GM's door-mounted automatic seat belt design. The petition requested investigation of three specific problems alleged to exist with the GM design: (1) "Defective design" of the GM automatic belt system; (2) "Physical failure" of the automatic belt system; and (3) Lack of "integrity" of the door latch mechanism. The petition alleged that failures of the type listed above resulted in injury and death of occupants who were ejected during collisions in which they wore GM's automatic seat belts. GM asked Failure Analysis Associates, Inc. (FaAA) to assist in evaluating the allegations made by CAS in its August 1990 petition and to assist in re-evaluating the performance of GM's three-point, door-mounted automatic seat belts. Briefly, some of FaAA's findings are as follows: (1) The overall fatal vehicle involvement rate and the overall vehicle accident rates of the subject GM vehicles are generally comparable to those of the peer group vehicles. (2) Ejection rates for front seat outboard occupants, ejection rates with major consequences, and fatal injury ejections are similar between the subject GM vehicles and the peer vehicles for: belted occupants, unbelted occupants, and for all occupants regardless of belt use. (3) The likelihood of fatal or major injury to belted front seat outboard occupants in the subject GM vehicles is similar to or lower than the likelihood in peer group vehicles. (4) The ejection rate for belted front seat outboard occupants in the subject GM vehicles is not distinguishable from that of peer group vehicles. (5) The ejection rate for unbelted front seat outboard occupants in the subject GM vehicles is also not distinguishable from this ejection rate for peer group vheicles. (6) After examination of all available measures of occupant restraint performance, door latch performance, or the likelihood of front seat outboard occupant injury or ejection, no significant differences were found between the subject GM vehicles and the peer group vehicles. (7) GM's automatic seat belts are as effective as the manual seat belt systems installed in 1987 to 1989 GM cars in terms of reducing the likelihood of injury to belted front seat outboard occupants.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Failure Analysis Associates, Incorporated

    149 Commonwealth Drive, P.O. Box 3015
    Menlo Park, CA  United States  94025
  • Authors:
    • PADMANABAN, J
    • LANGE, R C
    • RAY, R M
    • Curzon, A M
    • Cooperrider, N K
  • Publication Date: 1990-10-19

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 94 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00626645
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: SF-R-90-10-11, HS-041 306
  • Files: HSL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 25 1993 12:00AM