Frontal Airbag & Seat Belt Safety in the "Gray Zone": Occupant Injury Risk in Moderate Severity Speed Collisions

Exponent Presents at SAE International WCX™ in Detroit, Michigan

April 18 - 20, 2023
A shot of a person in the behind the steering wheel of a car buckling their seatbelt


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Exponent Staff

Multiple factors such as magnitude, direction, and vehicle deceleration rate influence airbag and seat belt pretensioner deployment. Within moderate vehicle speed change ranges, however — known as the "gray zone" — a specific vehicle algorithm may or may not initiate airbag or seat belt pretensioner deployment, depending on crash pulse parameters, occupant sensing, and other factors.

Learn more at our seat belt and airbag safety presentation evaluating occupant kinematics on April 19, 2023, at the SAE International WCX™ World Congress Experience. More details below.

Crash Test Dummy Evaluation Analyze
Speaker Presentation

"Evaluation of Occupant Kinematics and Kinetics During Moderate Severity Simulated Frontal Impacts With and Without Frontal Airbag Deployment"

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19 | 2:00 P.M. (edt)

This presentation will share the results of our sled tests study simulating frontal deceleration collisions in the "gray zone" — 19 kph (12 mph) delta-V severity and in a typical deployment severity of 32 kph (20 mph) delta-V — with and without airbag deployment, as well as test results with and without pretensioner deployment with concurring airbag deployment. Further evaluation of occupant kinematics and loading effects during airbag and seat belt pretensioner deployment would be useful as public data on moderate speed range collisions are lacking.

Exponent speaker: Sandra Grijalva, Ph.D., Senior Associate, Biomechanics

Exponent authors: Sarah S. Sharpe, Ph.D., Principal, Biomechanics; Sandra Grijalva, Ph.D., Senior Associate, Biomechanics; Leigh Allin, Ph.D., Senior Associate, Biomechanics; Amy Courtney, Ph.D., CAISS, Senior Manager, Biomechanics; Megan Toney-Bolger, Ph.D., P.E., Senior Managing Engineer, Biomechanics; Anastassia Pokutta-Paskaleva, Ph.D., Senior Associate, Biomechanics; Charles L. Crosby, P.E., Senior Managing Engineer, Vehicle Engineering; Michael Carhart, Ph.D., Principal, Biomechanics

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...within a range of moderate changes in vehicle speeds, referred to as the "gray zone," a vehicle-specific algorithm may or may not command deployment depending on crash pulse parameters and occupant sensing, among other items.


Explore the latest mobility industry research and technology developments at the SAE International WCX™ World Congress Experience — from occupant safety to electric vehicle battery technology and more.

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