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NHTSA Proposes New Child Crash Dummy, New Science Will Lead To Improved Family and Child Safety

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

American Government

NHTSA Proposes New Child Crash Dummy, New Science Will Lead To Improved Family and Child Safety

June 26, 1998

NHTSA 33-98
Contact: Phil Frame
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today proposed design and performance specifications for a new 6-year-old child crash dummy, one of the key steps in the development of pending advanced air bag rules.

"Safety is President Clinton's highest transportation priority, and this proposal helps prepare the way for advanced air bags," U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater said. "It continues our comprehensive series of actions to preserve the benefits of air bags and minimize their risks, in this case to children."

The advanced 6-year-old dummy is the first addition to the Hybrid III crash dummy family proposed for use in air bag tests since the 50th percentile Hybrid III male dummy was adopted in June, 1986. Other "family" members will include a Hybrid III 5th percentile (small) female, a Hybrid III 3-year-old, and a 12-month-old CRABI (Child Restraint Air Bag Interaction) dummy -- all designed to assess injury potential to a range of occupant sizes.

"Improved safety for children will result from this new science," said Ricardo Martinez, M.D., NHTSA administrator. "We can better evaluate the effects of air bag deployment and quickly put our new knowledge to work in the real world, making it safer for them."

The 6-year-old Hybrid III dummy has been used for general research purposes for some time, but the need for its certification for official compliance testing has become more urgent as new science has pointed to safety problems that current air bags may pose for children who are unbuckled or out of position. While the 6-year-old dummy has been useful for evaluating child restraints, it was not designed to measure the types of injuries that unbelted or out-of-position children can suffer from air bags.

The new Hybrid III 6-year-old dummy, for example, has a multi-segment and highly instrumented neck that makes it better able to mimic human neck responses and measure the injury potential. This is critical because neck injuries are one of the main causes of child fatalities due to air bags.

After extensive testing, NHTSA now is proposing that the Hybrid III 6-year-old dummy be added to Part 572 of the Code of Federal Regulations. The issue of requiring the use of the new dummy as part of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 will be addressed in the advanced air bag rulemaking.

The proposal for the Hybrid III 6-year-old dummy will be published in the Federal Register and a drawing package will be placed in NHTSA's docket. Interested parties may comment on the proposal within 90 days of the Federal Register notice. When the new Hybrid III 6-year-old dummy is finalized, NHTSA will publish a user's manual and digital descriptions of its patterns and molds.

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