Motion of the Head and Neck of Female and Male Volunteers in Rear Impact Car-to-Car Impacts
Journal article, 2012

Objectives The objectives of this study were to quantify and compare dynamic motion responses between 50th percentile female and male volunteers in rear impact tests. These data are fundamental for developing future occupant models for crash safety development and assessment. Methods High-speed video data from a rear impact test series with 21 male and 21 female volunteers at 4 and 8 km/h, originally presented in Siegmund et al. (1997), were used for further analysis. Data from a subset of female volunteers, 12 at 4 km/h and 9 at 8 km/h, were extracted from the original data set to represent the 50th percentile female. Their average height was 163 cm and their average weight was 62 kg. Among the male volunteers, 11 were selected, with an average height of 175 cm and an average weight of 73 kg, to represent the 50th percentile male. Response corridors were generated for the horizontal and angular displacements of the head, T1 (first thoracic vertebra), and the head relative to T1. T-tests were performed with the statistical significance level of .05 to quantify the significance of the differences in parameter values for the males and females. Results Several differences were found in the average motion response of the male and female volunteers at 4 and 8 km/h. Generally, females had smaller rearward horizontal and angular motions of the head and T1 compared to the males. This was mainly due to shorter initial head-to–head restraint distance and earlier head-to–head restraint contact for the females. At 8 km/h, the female volunteers showed 12 percent lower horizontal peak rearward head displacement (P = .018); 22 percent lower horizontal peak rearward head relative to T1 displacement (P = .018); and 30 percent lower peak head extension angle (P = .001). The females also had more pronounced rebound motion. Conclusions This study indicates that there may be characteristic differences in the head–neck motion response between 50th percentile males and females in rear impacts. The exclusive use of 50th percentile male rear impact dummies may thus limit the assessment and development of whiplash prevention systems that adequately protect both male and female occupants. The results of this study could be used in the development and evaluation of a mechanical and/or computational average-sized female dummy model for rear impact safety assessment. These models are used in the development and evaluation of protective systems. It would be of interest to make further studies into seat configurations featuring a greater head-to–head restraint distance.

car-to-car testing


Crash testing

Rear impact



Anna K Carlsson

SAFER, The Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre

Chalmers, Applied Mechanics, Vehicle Safety

Gunter P. Siegmund

MEA Forensic Engineers and Scientists

Astrid Linder

The Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI)

Mats Svensson

Chalmers, Applied Mechanics, Vehicle Safety

SAFER, The Vehicle and Traffic Safety Centre

Traffic Injury Prevention

1538-9588 (ISSN) 1538-957X (eISSN)

Vol. 13 4 378-387

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