Title page for ETD etd-12172009-175352

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Swanseen, Kimberly Dawn
Author's Email Address swanse43@vt.edu
URN etd-12172009-175352
Title Effect of Belt Usage Reporting Errors on Injury Risk Estimates
Degree Master of Science
Department Biomedical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Gabler, Hampton Clay Committee Chair
Duma, Stefan M. Committee Member
Hardy, Warren N. Committee Member
  • Event Data Recorder
  • Seat Belt
  • Injury Risk Estimates
Date of Defense 2009-12-09
Availability unrestricted
This thesis presents the results of a research effort investigating the effect of belt usage reporting errors of National Automotive Sampling System-Crash Data System (NASS-CDS) investigators on injury risk estimates. Current estimates of injury risk are developed under the assumption that NASS-CDS investigators are always accurate at determining seat belt usage. The primary purpose of this research is to determine the accuracy of NASS-CDS investigators using event data recorders (EDRs) as the baseline for accuracy, and then recalculating injury risk estimates based on our findings.

The analysis of a 107 EDR dataset, from vehicle tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), was conducted to determine the accuracy of Chrysler, Ford, GM and Toyota EDRs. This accuracy was examined by both EDR module type and vehicle make. EDR accuracy was determined for crash delta-V, seat belt buckle status, pre-impact speed, airbag deployment status and front seat position. From this analysis we were able to conclude that EDRs were accurate, within 4.5%, when comparing maximum delta-V of EDRs that recorded the entire crash pulse length. We also determined that EDRs were 100% accurate when reporting driver seat belt status for EDRs that completely recorded the event and recorded a status for the driver’s seat belt. All GM, Ford and Chrysler EDRs in our database reported a pre-impact velocity less than 6 mph different than the NHTSA and IIHS reported pre-impact velocities. We also found that all but 2 (101 out of 103) of the GM, Ford, and Toyota EDRs correctly reported airbag deployment status. Lastly we were able to conclude that seat position status was useful in determining when a smaller sized occupant was the driver or right front occupant. EDRs reported seat position of 5% Hybrid III females as “forward” in every case that seat position was recorded for this smaller occupant size.

Based on the analysis of seat belt status accuracy, a comparison of NASS-CDS investigator driver seat belt status and EDR driver seat belt status was conducted to determine the accuracy of the NASS-CDS investigators. This same comparison was conducted on reports of driver seat belt status provided by police. We found that NASS-CDS investigators had an overall error of 9.5% when determining driver seat belt status. When the EDR stated that the driver was unbuckled, investigators incorrectly coded buckled in of 29.5% of the cases. When the EDR stated that the driver was buckled, NASS-CDS error was only 1.2%. Police officers were less accurate than NASS-CDS investigators, with an overall error of 21.7%. When the EDR stated that the driver was buckled, police had an error of 2.4%. When the EDR stated that the driver’s belt was unbuckled, police had an error of around 69%. In 2008, NASS-CDS investigators reported that drivers had an overall belt usage rate during accidents of 82%. After correcting for the errors we discovered, we estimate that the driver belt buckle status during a crash is around 72.6%.

Injury risk estimates and odd ratio point estimates were then calculated for NASS-CDS investigator and EDR buckled versus unbuckled cases. The cases included only frontal collisions in which there was no rollover event or fire. Injury was defined as AIS 2+. The risk ratios and point estimates were then compared between investigators and EDRs. We found that injury risk for unbelted drivers may be over estimated by NASS-CDS investigators. The unbuckled to buckled risk ratio for EDRs was 8%-12% lower than the risk ratio calculated for NASS-CDS investigators.

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