How does seatbelt use or non-use affect occupant safety in relatively low-speed impacts? In this research, the automotive engineers at Robson Forensic demonstrate the effectiveness of seatbelt use in a relatively low speed, 10 mph, crash situation.

Robson Forensic crash testing research shows how an unbuckled occupant moves during a relatively low speed crash.

Typical documented crash testing is performed using either very low changes in velocity (3 to 5 mph) or relatively high changes in velocity (35 mph). There is little research published on moderate crashes where passengers sustain injuries and airbags may or may not have deployed. The threshold for airbag deployment depends on the specific vehicle manufacturer, but the general expectation is that deployment occurs during frontal impacts with a change in velocity greater than 10 mph.

This 10 mph test would be near the lower airbag deployment threshold, where typically an airbag would not deploy. As seen in this demonstration, the driver without a seatbelt would sustain injury from hard contact with the steering wheel, where a belted occupant would not.


Featured Expert

Steven Becker

Steven conducts investigations involving vehicle failures and malfunctions, both as a crash reconstructionist and as a design expert. Steven’s engineering and design experience reaches nearly every mechanical and structural aspect of the vehicle. Steven has direct experience with the design and use of product durability test equipment as well as the quality assurance programs utilized by the auto industry. Steven is a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), holds a Pennsylvania State Inspection License and has been published on Engineering Test and Analysis Methods on multiple occasions.