Assessing Child Belt Fit, Volume I: Effects of Vehicle Seat and Belt Geometry on Belt Fit for Children with and without Belt Positioning Booster Seats

A laboratory study was conducted to quantify the effects of belt-positioning boosters on lap and shoulder belt fit. Postures and belt fit were measured for forty-four boys and girls ages 5 to 12 in four highback boosters, one backless booster, and on a vehicle seat without a booster. Belt anchorage locations were varied over a wide range. Seat cushion angle, seat back angle, and seat cushion length were varied in the no-booster conditions. All boosters produced better mean lap belt fit than was observed in the no-booster condition, but the differences among boosters were relatively large. With one midrange belt configuration, the lap belt was not fully below the anterior-superior iliac spine (ASIS) landmark on the front of the pelvis for 89% of children in one booster, and 75% of children failed to achieve that level of belt fit in another. In contrast, the lap belt was fully below the ASIS for all but two children in the best-performing booster. Child body size had a statistically significant but relatively small effect on lap belt fit. The largest children sitting without a booster had approximately the same lap belt fit as the smallest children experienced in the worst-performing booster. Increasing lap belt angle relative to horizontal produced significantly better lap belt fit in the no-booster condition, but the boosters isolated the children from the effects of lap belt angles. Reducing seat cushion length in the no-booster condition improved lap belt fit but changing cushion angle did not. Belt upper anchorage (D-ring) location had a strong effect on shoulder belt fit in conditions without shoulder belt routing from the booster. Unexpectedly, the worst average shoulder belt fit was observed in one highback booster with a poorly positioned shoulder belt routing clip. The shoulder belt was routed more outboard, on average, with a backless booster than without a booster, but raising the child also amplified the effect of D-ring location, such that children were more likely to experience poor shoulder belt fit due to outboard and forward D-ring locations when sitting on the booster. Taller children experienced more-outboard shoulder belt fit in conditions without shoulder belt routing by the booster and in the one booster with poor shoulder belt routing. Adjustable shoulder belt routing on three of the highback boosters effectively eliminated stature effects, providing approximately the same shoulder belt fit for all children. Seat back angle did not have a significant effect on shoulder belt fit. The belt fit was measured in each test condition using the 6YO and 10YO Hybrid-III ATDs. ATD belt fit was strongly correlated with child belt fit across test conditions, but offsets between the ATD and child belt fit scores were observed due to anatomical and postural differences between the ATDs and children. The results of this study have broad applicability toward the improvement of occupant restraints for children. The data show substantial effects of booster design on belt fit, particularly the effects of alternative lap and torso belt routing approaches. Regression analyses quantify the critical importance of belt anchorage location for child belt fit, providing an important foundation for efforts to optimize belt geometry for children. The strong correlation between ATD and child belt fit scores means that ATD-based measurements can reliably be used to assess booster and vehicle designs with respect to child belt fit.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Illustrations; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 85p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01149547
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: UMTRI-2008-49-1
  • Contract Numbers: DTNH22-05-01020
  • Files: TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 21 2010 4:58PM