While most of the automotive industry uses crash test dummies that reflect “a healthy, average, mid-size adult male or female,” Plymouth-based technology solutions company Humanetics Innovative Solutions has released a new model designed to represent the 40 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older in the U.S.
“As the demographics of the driving population continues to evolve, our crash test dummies and the test equipment that we design and manufacture must continue to evolve at the same rate,” says Christopher J. O’Connor, president and CEO of Humanetics. “Let’s not forget the more vulnerable drivers on the road and provide a product that the car manufacturers, government agencies, and research groups around the world can use to design and test a safer car for people of all sizes and ages.”
O’Connor explains that an elderly person’s body is differently than someone younger, and will sustain different injuries during an automobile accident. In 2014, more than 5,700 older adults were killed and more than 236,000 were treated in emergency rooms for motor vehicle crash injuries. Humanetics designed an ATD design to reflect the anthropometry of a small, 70-year-old female driver by using research conducted by the International Center for Automotive Medicine (ICAM) and the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.
The Elderly ADT is made of different hardware and has a newly-designed organ system concept, allowing more precise measurements of internal injuries sustained during simulated crashes. Humanetics is also working closely with ICAM to define anatomical features and verify performance attributes with real-world injury feedback.
O’Connor adds that safety-minded consumers strongly consider a vehicle’s crash test star rating before purchasing it, but might not understand the ATD used in government or consumer testing doesn’t correlate with their own body type or age group.
“We are very pleased with the advancement of safety features in cars today as we have come a long way, but it can’t stop until we eliminate fatalities on our highways worldwide,” O’Connor says.