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UMTRI researchers aim to improve vehicle safety for kids

July 18, 2011

UMTRI researchers hope to make passenger cars and trucks safer for children in crashes--the leading cause of death for kids.

Researchers in UMTRI's Biosciences Group will measure how children sit in car seats and how safety belts fit them. The study, which runs through August, will be used to improve the design of car seats and restraints.

For the study, children ages 4 to 11 sit in a laboratory mockup of a vehicle rear seat. The investigators measure how the children wear the seat belt using precise three-dimensional measurement tools. A whole-body surface coordinate measurement system records the children's body contours as they sit in a wide range of postures.

"The current crash dummies that represent kids sit in an unrealistic, erect posture," said UMTRI research associate professor Matthew Reed, principal investigator on the project. "The new data will let us create more realistic postures and body contours for both crash dummies and computer models used to assess safety belt fit."

The study will involve more than 100 children. For more information, call (734) 763-3463.