Rear occupant safety with Marcy Edwards from IIHS
This week we have special guest Marcy Edwards of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). She talks us through child safety issues, back seat safety issues and answers Anthony’s ridiculous question about crash testing his own car.
Also we have an update about Fred and the tank story. Stay tuned for that to be revealed in a couple of weeks.
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note: this is a machine generated transcript and may not be completely accurate. This is provided for convience and should not be used for attribution.
Anthony: Today we have special guest Marcy Edwards of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Sh she is a senior research engineer at the Institute. She joined in 2000 and a research focuses on occupant protection, the areas of whiplash and child passenger safety, among others. So thank you so much for being here.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah. Thank you Anthony.
Anthony: Yeah, so for our listeners at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety is that really cool organization where you can see clips on YouTube where they smash cars in the walls.
That’s the simple version, but real serious question. My car’s only a couple years old, but in like maybe 10 years when it’s. It’s the end of life. I don’t want it anymore. Can I come down and drive it into a wall at full speed?
Marcy Edwards: We have fought, we’ve, we have fought older cars for that purpose in order to demonstrate the improvements in safety over the years.
But generally, no, we don’t generally take people’s used cars. Come
Anthony: on. It looks so much fun. It
Fred: is fun. I would think that’d be a great spectator sport. You could line up stadiums and, yeah, it’d be almost, Demolition derby, but way faster you can come and be responsible.
Michael: Back in the day, I believe in the 18 hundreds, they would do that with trains and hundreds of thousands of people would come into towns in the Midwest to see trains collide like that.
And one resulted in a massive, I think, boiler explosion of the steam train that hurt a lot of people. So it’s a long standing tradition, I think to. Witness that type of carnage. Yeah.
Marcy Edwards: And we have a lot more interest in visiting than we have capacity for sure. It’s interesting, it’s also educational, for people to understand the types of forces that we’re talking about and how quickly an airbag deploys.
But yeah we have more interest than we actually have capacity for, unfortunately.
Anthony: Yeah. So one area that you’ve focused on that we’ve talked about a bunch here and I know Michael and Fred are really into, is rear passenger safety, child impact safety. And there’s a video that’s on your YouTube channel.
We’ll throw up a link to it of you were showing what happens when people are the seatbelt’s on versus not. Because there’s a layperson, you always figure. Okay, I’m in the back seat. If I don’t have a seatbelt on, I’m just gonna hit the seat in front of me. And that person, the driver probably has a seatbelt on, so they’ll be fine.
And then you realize, no, you’re just this bullet,
Marcy Edwards: right? Yeah. People don’t. Don’t quite understand how much mass that they have and how much force that equates to in a crash and how you can affect the safety of the other occupants in the vehicle when you become the projectile. So it’s not just about your own safety but making sure that you don’t become an impactor for the other people in the vehicle.
Anthony: So what are you guys doing that it seems that really what i h s does is it really forces the industry to be honest about safety issues that they’ve been neglecting and whatnot. So particularly in the case of, child passenger safety and rear seat safety what’s the big pushes that you guys have been doing for the last night?
It’s really. 10 years really, that I’ve seen more of it.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah. We’ve been working on rear occupant safety probably for the last five years. We started researching what the issues were in the rear seat, trying to understand what types of injuries were we were seeing in the rear seat and.
And what the really difference was between front seat safety and rear seat safety. Back prior to, to 2007, if you looked at field data the rear seat was actually safer vehicles. You were. The intrusion and a frontal crashed didn’t get to the rear seat. And there was no steering wheel to impact.
And so the rear seat was actually the safer place to be. But as we’ve made advances in safety in the front seat has now become safer in newer model vehicles. And so what we wanted to do, Is catch the rear seat up with the front. So we’ve made great gains. Automakers have responded to our tests and have really improved safety for the front seat.
And so we wanted to see that in the rear seat as well. And so we started by researching what’s. What sort of injuries we saw in the rear seat and what sort of problems we needed to address. And then looking at how with our crash tests, or by adding a different crash test, we could address that for rear seat occupants.
And so that’s what we recently put out in late 2022, we implemented our first seat ratings for rear seat occupants in frontal crash.
Michael: And I was going through those actually today and it looks like a lot of manufacturers seem to not rate so great in the, in those rankings, particularly I think in the medium and small SUVs.
They a lot of their systems don’t seem to be performing as well. There seem to be a lot of, a lot, a big difference between the good performers and the poor perform.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, so the technology that, that is in the front seat in your seatbelt in the front seat right now, there are two primary pieces of technology that are used to reduce injuries and one is pretension, which tightens your seatbelt early in the crash in order to reduce the slack in the belt and re and reduce.
Your your velocity with the vehicle. And and then the other one is force limiting, which is actually allows your belt to pay out some so that it reduces the forces on the thorax. And so in, in every vehicle that you might buy today, those are standard. In the front seat, but they’re not in the rear seat.
And so right now about 50% of the vehicles in the US fleet have pretension and force limiting in the rear seat positions. And so that’s why you see a big difference in performance. It’s and it’s not just pretension and force limiting, sometimes it’s how it’s implemented. That’s one of the things that we really wanted to focus on with this.
Rear occupant evaluation is one, making sure that the technologies that we know are beneficial are implemented in the rear seat and adapted to the rear seat, but also that they’re implemented well. So one of the things that we want to make sure is not happening in the rear seat is the the seatbelt, the lap belt sliding up into the abdomen.
So you know, Seatbelt is supposed to stay on your strong bones, and that means the pelvis and the shoulder. But what we see in the rear seat as a problem is this, the lap belt actually sliding up over those bones into your abdomen and causing serious abdominal injuries. So that’s one of the things that we’re trying to prevent in the rear seat.
And so that takes some intentional design to make sure that doesn’t happen.
Fred: Now there’s no overlap between the testing that you do and the testing that NCAP does, but there’s also some significant differences. Could you talk about that
Marcy Edwards: a bit? Sure. The tests that we do are largely complimentary to what NCAP testing does.
NCAP testing does a full frontal full width. Flat wall test. Whereas we which can be more challenging for restraints in terms of acceleration and managing that energy. But we have complimentary tests in that we do offset tests. Instead of hitting. The entire front width of the vehicle, we have two tests.
One that only impacts 40% of the width of the vehicle and one that only impacts 25% of the width of the vehicle. And those challenge the vehicle structure in a different way than a full frontal test. It. Focuses the energy on a smaller part of the width of the vehicle. And so the structure has to be able to manage that.
And so that’s one of the differences between our crash tests. And then with that comes different occupant kinematics. So the dummies move differently when you only impact part of the vehicle rather than the whole front. And We together address a lot of the different types of crashes that we see in the real world.
Fred: You have different buies types too, right? Different body types.
Marcy Edwards: Yep, we do. So right now for our frontal tests, we are using 50th percentile males in the front seat, but in the rear we’ve. When we added the rear occupant, which the endcap test right now does not have a rear occupant in frontal crashes in the rear seat.
And we’ve added a small female to the rear seat. And then they use some different dummies in the front seat, some. In some of their crashes, they use small females. And in the front seat where we’re using a 50th male and then in our side impact crashes, we’re using small females in both the front and the rear seat.
Cuz we felt that was a higher risk scenario for small females in than 50th males.
Fred: Wow, that’s fantastic. Are you limited in the types of body types that are available, or are you limited more by the scope of the tests that you think are reasonable?
Marcy Edwards: We are pretty limited by the types of dummies that are available right now.
The only dummy sizes that are available are the fifth percentile female, 50th percentile male and 95th percentile male. So it, it expands the range of humans. But we have to make choices about which of those can best represent the most occupants being injured in that particular crash. So that’s why you see that in some cases, we make the choice to use a 50th percentile male.
In some cases, we make the choice to use a small female because we’re trying to address the the occupants that are at most risk in those particular seating positions and crash.
Fred: Do I get to vote? I’d like to vote for the 95th percentile Male, please. Thank you very much. Is that
Marcy Edwards: you that pretty close?
Yeah. We actually, in, in all of our tests, we don’t only do research with the 95th percentile male. So I think the 50th male is the most popular generally because. Even though it’s called a male, it represents both males and females of average size. And in the rear seat, we chose the small female because a lot of children sit in the rear seat.
And typically if an occupant is gonna sit in the rear seat, it’s usually not the 95th male. It’s usually one of the smaller occupants in the group.
Anthony: How many times do you crash? Test the car on a roll, say, you’ve got some sedan and you want to get some data on backseat passenger stuff. And so you’ve got, I don’t know, a Toyota Camry or something like that.
And you wanna see, okay, let’s see what it does off of side impact and then roll over. You’re. I assume you’re using a new car each time for each tester allow or just, Hey, we keep damaging this car more and more. The dummy doesn’t have an arm anymore. Yeah, like how, because I imagine just setting up these tests and figuring out, okay, one, this has gotta be exp, are, do you guys buy the cars or do the OEMs say, give them to us?
I can’t imagine that they’re,
Marcy Edwards: yeah. We do a little of both, but yes, we do. We have to. Test each crash mode individually because, although multiple mode crashes do happen in the real world we like to keep it simple in our crash lab and straightforward. And so we keep those tests separate.
So we have a different vehicle for each of the crash tests that we have to do. And yes, we do purchase them. We try to make a point to purchase them off of dealer lots so that they are exactly what consumers are getting. Sometimes automakers can nominate their vehicle. For example, if we don’t have it on our test plan to test a vehicle and they they want a rating for it, then they can nominate it and they do contribute to the purchase price of the vehicle in that scenario.
Anthony: Did they ever come back and be like, Hey, nominate this car, and then you guys test it and they’re like, nevermind. Don’t. No. One star. Nope. That was No.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, that has happened for sure. But unfortunately for them, once they nominate it then it gets published. Wow.
Anthony: But so back to the test.
So I imagine if you’re focusing on whiplash incidents or child safety, so you’re focused on one section. We have somebody else, they’re focused on, front passenger impacts and so they’ve got a range of data they want to collect. You have your own data, like how. H how does it, what does it take to come up with a test scenario to say, Hey, we’re gonna smash this $20,000 car and make sure that we have all of the data I want for a cheap car, cuz car is now ridiculous price.
Okay. But like, how do you do that? Because hey, not only we have to do it one time and you can’t, I can’t imagine you can get it wrong. You can’t be like, oh, we forgot to snap the seatbelt in. Yes.
Marcy Edwards: That’s a bad day at the office. It is a bad day at the office. Yeah, that’s a bad day at the office.
Looks different for us than a lot of people. But yeah, we we have a lot of procedures in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. We use checklists very fastidiously. We. We have experienced mishaps but we try to make sure when they happen that we put things in place to make sure they don’t happen again.
But, in our research process, we really work together to make sure we can get the most information out of a test as possible. Sometimes we have, as many. As three or four Demis in a vehicle to get as much information as we can, which challenges is our resources. But yeah we do try to make sure that if we run a crash test and, we’re testing a $30,000 car that it goes as planned.
Anthony: Yeah. And so for each car you choose are you doing every battery of tests on it? So again, the Toyota Camry, so you’re doing the 40% offset, 25%. Are you also doing side impact and
Marcy Edwards: rollover and Yeah so typically if we’re going to rate a vehicle we do all of those, but we do have Some procedures in place that allow automakers to supply us with their own in-house crash test data.
So if they’ve performed well in a crash test before we, we trust that they know what they’re doing then. For certain crash modes where we’re, where they’ve performed well in the past, we do allow them to submit their own data for some of those tests. Like for example, right now we’re not doing that for the rear occupant test, the updated moderate 2.0.
But but for some of the tests that, that they’ve been doing for a while then we allow them to do that so we don’t have to test everything for every vehicle.
Anthony: Okay. Cause I’d imagine that would just. It would take you more than a year to test every vehicle.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, and we have, we are in Ville, Virginia, the only crash test facility that tests for i h s.
And so we, some places have multiple test houses that test for them, but all of our crash tests are done here at this one facility.
Fred: You’ve also done some interesting testing. I if my memory is correct. For example, you did some road tests of self-driving vehicles and you were looking at their responses as you were Crusting Hill, and I seem to remember that study and it was, had some pretty scary results from that or, yeah.
So you’re really pushing the envelope in a lot of the test procedures that you.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, we are trying to understand these systems. The automated driving systems, we’re trying to make sure that as they are implemented in vehicles, that they are done safely and in a way that doesn’t compromise vehicle safety and occupant safety.
So we do a lot of research on those systems, trying to understand their shortcomings and and if there are benefit. Have you ever seen
Anthony: the Zoox vehicle? I don’t wanna put you on the spot, I’m getting you in trouble about
Marcy Edwards: I have not. I,
Anthony: no, I have not This autonomous self-driving vehicle that as a lay person looking at it going, there’s no way that survives a crash test.
I don’t know what they’re doing.
Michael: Did you see Anthony? They recently did the 3 0 1, the FMDs 3 0 1 test on. No from the rear on a zoo’s vehicle. And the sled only contacts the zoo’s vehicle on the tires, those big funny tires they have and push. It basically pushes the undercarriage under the vehicle and the passengers, look fairly well protected, this is a car that’s operating without a steering wheel and brakes when it should be.
Fred: see. Yeah. It was unusual too because it only had what we generally think of as a supplemental restrain system, so it’s completely reliant on the airbags that came out. There were no we constraints or strapped constraints or seat belts or anything like that in the vehicle.
Yeah. I’m sorry. Go ahead, Brad. Oh, no, I was gonna say, I was gonna say we’ll get this straight. One of these times, Marc, we’re still very new to this. Do you have a wish list of technical enhancements that you’d like to see in test dummies? Because I my recollection is that a lot of the instrumentation that you’re able to put on test dummies is somewhat dated and limited in scope.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, the testim are a challenge. They’re an approximation of human response and they’re meant to represent a lot of a lot of different humans at once. And yet, what we know about humans is that they’re extremely variable. And dummies are a challenge. But we do know that how they’ve been used in the past and how we’ve been using them for the last you.
20 years has really made a difference in vehicle safety. So we know even though they, the tools have shortcomings, they have been beneficial in advancing vehicle safety thus far. But they do have shortcomings and one of the recent ones that we, discovered was the dummy has.
The small female has a sensitivity to belt position, and so she wasn’t designed to have a sensitivity to belt position. It doesn’t represent human sens sensitivity to belt position, but she has one, and so we have. Figured out a way to, to compensate for that. And so sometimes with the tools that we have to compensate for their shortcomings.
And I would love to see a dummy that could truly represent. Human thoracic injury. I think that the dummies that we have there, there are new dummies. The Thor dummy is out there and under development and and being used in the near term. We’ve, we have decided not to go that direction because we.
Didn’t find that it added more information relating to real world data. But we hope that as we progress in, in understanding thoracic injury, how we can represent it in a reliable way that we can get dummies that Can represent those injuries better. And another area is, we wanna understand the female extremity injuries better.
And so we’d like to see a dummy that can better represent extremity injuries and the differences between males and females.
Fred: Oh’s very interesting.
Michael: The now that’s interesting because we’ve seen, I’ve, some of the things we’ve been looking at are injuries to, to. Female legs in, in the front seat and crashes.
But also in the rear, one of the things I’ve always been really surprised by is just how important it is in incap testing, and I’m su assuming yours as well, that the belt placement be proper o on the dummy for many reasons. But also, and also related to that in the rear seat issue.
Aren’t, there are a lot of chest injuries in the rear seats that, that, I don’t know if they’re related to the lack of pretensioners and load limiters. But it’s a the rear seat seems to be a difficult space to design around. I don’t know if, is that because there’s so much variation in different car, different vehicle models, or is it, I know we know it’s been ignored somewhat as the technology progressed in the front seat, but are there any.
Are there any underlying issues in the rear seat that complicate these things? Things like the belt placement and other issues?
Marcy Edwards: Yeah and that’s something that we’ve run into in trying to encourage, advancement and safety technology in the rear seat. The rear seat is used for a lot of different things other than, your typical driving age occupant, you have a lot of considerations that people are trying to make use of the rear seat for.
They want them to be flexible for cargo, they need to be able to accommodate children. There’s, there’s issues or strategies for the rear seat that you don’t need to consider when somebody’s gonna be driving and. Paying attention to the road and is a of a certain age, people of a certain driving age, are not gonna be the size of children.
And so there are a lot of considerations in the rear seat that you don’t have to design for in the front. And so that’s why. One of the issues in the rear seat is belt geometry and where the anchorages are placed and how they fit the size occupants that sit in the rear seat. And so that’s one of the things that we want to encourage back there is good belt geometry that can adapt to the occupants that are in that seating position.
And that. That is definitely a challenge
Michael: in the rear seat. And I noticed in the rear seat ratings that, it’s not just a rating of function, it’s almost, there’s almost another rating on the side that’s, I think that’s a rating of whether they have pretensioners and that type of equipment in place.
But I saw some vehicles that do have that equipment in place, but they still perform either poorly or marginally and some of the testing, which means they don’t quite have it figured out even with that technology.
Marcy Edwards: And yeah, and that’s what I was talking about before about the implementation. So there are vehicles that have the technology that we want to promote, the pretension and the force limiting, but the implementation is just not quite there.
And that is usually related to submarine. Usually the, and that is often related to. Belt geometry or how the belt movement is managed. And so those are the improvements along with the technology, the pretension, the force that we want to see it well implemented and in a robust manner so that, Occupants of different sizes.
You don’t wanna design a system that can only protect one size occupant. We want to see robust designs that will will keep the belts on the pelvis of lots of different size occupants. And that means robust, intentional design.
Michael: And then you said submarine, so that really reminded me of.
You create these cars for putting humans in and you’ve built it all up and the belts are in the right place, and then someone comes along and says, oh, hey, here’s a booster seat. Yeah. That they wanna stick in there and change everything up that you’ve designed into the vehicle, and then put a child into that system.
And I think, we see high rates of submarining, particularly in certain types of booster seats. Do you, is there, any information that, parents should even know about this? Are there certain types of booster seats that might be better or worse? I think we all recommend that.
Parents keep their children in the the house child seats as long as possible before moving to boosters. But other than that, are there any things that consumers might, want to know about booster seats that could help them in picking the right one
Anthony: be before that consumers may in general wanna know what exactly do you mean by submarine?
Marcy Edwards: Yeah. Yeah. I throw that term around a lot on I apologize to
Anthony: Pretensioners and the other thing for some, yeah, I think I, that was I thing I got, but submarine
Marcy Edwards: Help me out. Yeah, sure. What submarine is, like I said, you wanna, you want your belt. Your seatbelt to stay on your pelvis bones.
And and what submarine is when the lap belt moves up and over the top of your pelvis, bones, and lands in your soft abdomen. And so we call that submarine when the dummy moves under that lap belt or the lap belt slides up into your abdomen.
Anthony: Oh, and this is just, this is during the crash dust itself?
Yeah. During the crash, yeah. Oh that’s right. I just remember one of it was only lap belts and no one to wear them. Cuz they were just uncomfortable as it
Marcy Edwards: was. Yeah. Lap belt only lap belts are not good
Anthony: either. Any chance we’re gonna get the like Formula One racing full harness?
Marcy Edwards: I doubt that many people would be on board with that, but that would definitely improve things.
It would probably
Michael: help with fire farside collisions and other things
Marcy Edwards: as well. Yeah, it might decrease belt use, which would probably be an issue though,
Anthony: Sorry, my, my submarine. Question. I interrupted Michael’s question about what parents should know about booster
Marcy Edwards: seats and things like that.
Sure. Yeah. So we actually we rate booster seats for belt fit. So one of the things about booster seats that we want to encourage and and booster manufacturers have responded in creating good belt fit. And like I said, Good belt fit means keeping the belt in in a good place that’s across low across the pelvis and across the the clavicle bones.
And so we have ratings on our website that can help parents choose, or our caregivers choose what type of booster might best work for their child. And. One of the important things about boosters is that they is that they boost, so they. Raise children up so that the belt fits. They’re really meant to put the child in a position to be the size of a larger occupant so that they get the shoulder belt in the right place, and that the belt angle of the lap belt is in an optimal position to keep the belt on the pelvis during the crash rather than a more horizontal, angle where it might slip.
Fred: Is it important to match the model of booster seat with the particular car model that you’re considering?
Marcy Edwards: I think it’s always worth testing your vehicle with a booster seat and making sure that you know your child and that booster in your car are well-suited. And
Fred: how would somebody know
Marcy Edwards: If they’re well suited?
Anthony: That’s a good you out and buy three dozen booster seat, each of them
Marcy Edwards: in your car. Yeah. So that’s part of what our ratings are is they they have check fit. If there, there’s ratings that are they’re pretty likely to work in a lot of vehicles and then there are boosters that, you may need to check it in your car and make sure that they work with your child.
And that’s again, making sure the belt is. Across the across the lap or across the pelvis and making sure that the belt is across the clavicle rather than up on your neck or hanging off your arm. And those ratings can be found and some details about how that fit can be found on our website as well.
Fred: You guys do fantastic work. I gotta say. It’s wonderful that you’re out there. Do you have another question? You do some crash avoidance testing, right? And there are no federal standards for crash avoidance testing, so you’re running in advance of whatever the federal government might be doing.
Brings up a lot of interesting questions. Number one, do you find that it works well and number two, Is there any car company that’s saying we don’t have to really build a stronger car anymore because we’ve got this crash avoidance testing and we’re simply not gonna be getting into crashes, so why bother putting steel in front of the passenger compartment anyway?
Marcy Edwards: Yeah. So we do crash avoidance testing and I think that’s one of the ways that, we’re able to compliment what the federal government is doing because we can move more quickly in some of these areas to implement evaluations and yeah, we. We have absolutely seen that they’ve been beneficial, and we’ve seen that automakers have responded.
So we do frontal crash prevention evaluations and and we are, we’ve seen excellent response to that. We had a voluntary agreement with automakers to make Automatic emergency braking standard by 2022. And and really they’ve responded like 20, 20, 90 9% of the vehicles on the road.
Were committed to have. Automatic emergency braking by 2022. And and we’ve seen significant improvements in field, in the field in that that technology reduces crashes. And so we wanna continue to promote that. And actually we’ve we’ve retired the original one and we are researching what the next phase is to.
To improve things even more. And so we’re pushing, we think that’s really beneficial technology and we’re pushing to keep that to raise the bar on that. Yeah.
Michael: And we’ve already seen lots of benefits in crash prevention from a i, I guess we like to think of it as phase one or level one automatic emergency breaking in many respects.
You know right now it’s able to work at low speeds and prevent car to car collisions. Pedestrian automatic emergency breaking’s coming out. We’re hoping that it can work. Automatic emergency breaking can work at much higher speeds over highway waist. Speed and you know that pedestrian breaking can work better at night.
And another scenarios where y’all have pointed out that it’s some of them aren’t doing so well.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, that’s ex those
Michael: are, and that’s coming out with its rules soon. So a lot’s going on in this area.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah. And that’s ex, that’s exactly where we’re looking as well. We’re looking we do pedestrian a b testing already.
Daytime and nighttime. And the the update that we’re looking at is looking at using higher speeds for frontal crash prevention evaluations.
Anthony: Have you seen any, oh, I’m doing a job where you’re like, Hey, that’s much better than we imagined.
Marcy Edwards: I think that there, there is definitely a range of performance and sometimes we are surprised on in both directions by performance.
Anthony: Okay. Fair. Very political answer. I know the radar on my system, it’s field of view is slightly narrower than it should be.
Marcy Edwards: Yes, absolutely. Yeah. Absolutely. And that’s why we evaluate these systems because nobody else is, and. They’re made by different manufacturers and they all have different standards and they have different equipment that they’re using to make the the judgements.
And I think it’s helpful for to consumers to, to have some standardization of. What the technology is that they’re getting.
Michael: Yeah, that’s what I’m wondering. Will Nitsa getting out? It’s finally getting out. Its AB rule makings. Will that make your job a little easier? Because there’s gonna be at least some standardization to the
Marcy Edwards: systems.
Yeah. Yeah. And that’s generally what we hope to see is that things that we have spearheaded end up in, regulations. So that we don’t have to keep doing them. We can move on to something else.
Anthony: Yeah, I like the fact that you guys are testing this instead of the member of my household decided to test the a e b system.
You know how great it is. The guy at the body shop loved it. It
Marcy Edwards: didn’t work so well,
Anthony: Uhhuh. No. It was changing a lane and just, I wasn’t in the car, but I was like, how did you miss that giant? That’s a, eh, yeah. The radar missed it too,
Marcy Edwards: yeah I managed to back into my my husband’s car.
I found a fringe case with my system as well.
Anthony: Was the backup camera lens dirty?
Marcy Edwards: I think I just found a fringe case on the ri ah, on the rear corner panel or something.
Anthony: Got it. That’s good to know. So Fred Bri briefly mentioned you guys were working on autonomous vehicles and he, you, so you guys just, you glanced over this thing cuz autonomous vehicles is our, is like our big.
Big issue these days. Each week we have Fred read through something we call the consumer AV Bill of Rights, where it’s a list of, Hey, these are the things that autonomous vehicles need and should have. It’s great that you guys are starting to test this, but before we jump into Fred discussing number nine of the consumer autonomous vehicle, consumer Bill of Rights what was the one you were talking about there with the AVS Crusting, a hill and yeah. Was it a cruise? Did it hit a school bus?
Marcy Edwards: Again, you know that I don’t know. My, I actually do passive safety generally, which is the crash actual, the actual crash safety. The details of what that case was, I’m not sure. But but we are researching autonomous vehicle technology.
And so like Fred said, we’ve put out some research on level two systems and how well they work, which is typically adaptive cruise control or lane changing. And so we are trying, and we’re actually going to be putting ratings out on those systems later this year. We are trying to make sure what we want to do is make sure that those systems are keeping the driver in the loop that the driver is has shared responsibility in the system.
And I think there’s some perception with autonomous vehicles right now that the driver can disengage and what our goal with this. With this rating is to make sure that the system keeps the driver engaged and and that means that they’re visually engaged. There’s cameras looking at where their eyes are looking, that their hands are ready to respond.
And so that’s what our focus is for autonomous vehicles right now.
Anthony: Very neat. Shall we go into the Tower of Fred and discuss autonomous vehicle? Oh yes. Let’s do, okay. Welcome to the tower Fred, the Consumer AV Bill of Rights. This week, it’s episode, it’s item number nine. I love this one.
This is my, actually my favorite one. AV shall include a full-proof capability to expedite safe egress on demand of its occupants. Example of big red stop button. I like
Marcy Edwards: it. You’ve now entered the Dow of Fred.
Fred: Thank you. Marcie, I don’t know how familiar you are with what we’re doing here, but we’re trying to put together a consumer-oriented set of minimum requirements that need to be implemented by manufacturers in order to make the AVS acceptable to consumers.
And we’ve developed a list of these. I don’t
Anthony: know if it’s full self-driving, not just like lemon.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah.
Fred: Fully self-driving, right? Because it’s a brave new world and what we’ve discovered and I’m sure what you know, is that a lot of the discussion is completely reactive. Hey, manufacturer will propose something.
They’ll say, we’re gonna put it on the highways. And a lot of people react to that and say no, because of this, and no, because of that, there is no set of standard. That industry has adopted, or the government has adopted this says, this is what you really need to do. And so we’re trying to fill that void with this consumer, a AV consumer Bill of Rights.
So today we’re talking about, as Anthony just said, including a foolproof capability to exploit safe egress. So why is that needed? Number one, we don’t ever want a consumer to be in a position of being held cap. By AV logic when they want to get out of the car. There’s a lot of reasons why somebody needs to get out of the car that go far beyond what we can imagine right now.
Emergency situation, somebody threatening the vehicle, bad weather, who knows what. There’s probably a lot of reasons why a human judgment needs to be superior to the machine judgment about when and where to let the passengers out of the. So we believe that before they’re introduced into commerce, the avs have gotta provide a means for untrained occupants to obviously initiate expedited safe vehicle stop and occupant egress.
So you can think of a big red button that you wanna stop you can push that and the car will say, okay I understand it pulls over to the side of the road, lets you come. Also the car does not stop on the top of a bridge where there’s no no breakdown lane to let you out there and say, okay, you’re on your own.
So it’s gotta, it’s gotta be able to find a way to, a safe spot to let you out. Also, a big red stop button isn’t gonna do somebody who has vision problems on a whole lot of good. So there’s a lot. Talk about use of AVS to expand mobility for people who are otherwise challenging mobility, but they’ve gotta accommodate the needs of these people as well as the needs of a normally cited person or a person with normal motor control if they’re going to expand the envelope of users to include, this expansive group that has been so often talked.
So the av, the emergency universe, has gotta address the physical or mental limitations of its passengers. Also, if, if you’ve got a, if you’re sending your three year old off to the violin lesson in an AV and you just plugged in your credit card and off they go you, you gotta make sure that the car is compatible with the capabilities and judgment of a three-year-old to get out of the car if they need to do
You just invented a whole new horror genre. Horrors that kidnap, 2020 is gonna have a whole series on this.
Fred: Yeah. Thank you. I didn’t know I was that creative, but I like that idea. Ultimately, the AVS must never falsely imprison the person for any reason, if they want to get out of the car, if they need to get out of the car, if they need to stop the trip for any reason.
So we think this is a modest and easily achievable goal. Before the AV enters service maybe not easily achievable. It could be difficult, but it needs to be done because that is something that every person right now who’s riding in a conventional vehicle implicitly has access to. I don’t feel well, I’m, I’m gonna throw up.
Okay, let’s go to the side of the road. Before you do that, Charlie, and I’d prefer that you do that outside of the car rather than. Simple things or, and complex things. It’s, but it all relates to that same initiative that you’ve gotta have the consumer, you’ve gotta have the person inside the car in control of their presence within the car for whatever reason.
I’ve gotten a surprising amount of pushback from other people in the regulatory community about this, saying let’s just, it’s not easy. We sh we, we can’t really do this. That’s fine. If it’s not easy and you can’t do it, then don’t put the car on the road that’s going to endanger the occupants.
Anthony: Wait. They’re saying that’s not the easy part. Whereas a fully autonomous vehicle, that’s the easier part. Sure.
Fred: People bring up people. No, people say you can’t do that because you might be going over a bridge at 60 miles an hour and there’s, there’s a truck passing you and. It’s raining and there’s no breakdown lane, and so you can’t have somebody just stop the car and get out.
Oh, that’s true. That makes it difficult, right? You need to put enough judgment and enough capability into the car so it can sense those extreme circumstances and yet still assure the safety of the people who were in the. Difficult thing, but again, we’re coming at this from the perspective of the consumer.
We’re not coming at this from the perspective of the pragmatic engineer who’s gotta get something out on the road because the R ROI calculation says, it’s gonna be in the market by the end of the year. And I don’t care what it takes to get there. We think we’re the only ones doing that right now.
I wonder if, if there’s anything on your side at the I A H S that’s talking about putting together some kind of minimum standards like this that every car must meet in order to be suitable for public use.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, I’m, I am not aware of anything that we have put together for. The future levels of vehicles.
I think for us, we have our plate full trying to to address the systems that are on the road right now. So we have not put a lot of energy into trying to think through what it would look like to make sure that vehicles are. Addressing these issues for consumers. But I think it’s great that you guys are doing it.
I think that’s an important role that somebody, like you said, They’re, these are not reactionary necessarily that they’re forward thinking from the perspective of the consumer. I think it it’s really great that, that you’re playing that role in advocating for the consumers in this way. Cuz like you said, there’s a lot of there’s a lot of things to think about and those are from the perspective of cons of a consumer, you.
I had not thought through that myself. So I think it’s a great thing that you guys are doing that. Yeah. I imagine
Anthony: this future will get your life very busy because in some of these AV vehicles, there’s no longer a front seat, there’s no longer a backseat. So it just would change your testing facilities and practices dramat.
Like the zoo’s vehicle that I like to make fun of it, it’s like a, I don’t know, it’s a pod with bench seats facing in towards the center.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah and as a community, I think, there has been a lot of research trying to address those sorts of scenarios, those, the differences in AV vehicles, the types of seating constraints, the site types of safety systems that would need to be in place to adapt to an occupant that was reclined or facing the opposite direction, or you.
Trying to understand how that changes restraint design. So there’s definitely been some concerted effort in that area but from a safety perspective. But But not from the perspective of what you guys are doing that
Michael: I’ve seen. Yeah, I was, it’s always interesting to hear things like campfire seating where yeah, they’re sitting on swivel chairs in a circle and you’re going, what on earth could you do with an airbag and seat belts to, to make that safe?
I don’t know if you could, we still struggle to make those sideways spacing seats on bus buses safe because they introduce a completely different type. Crash force to the body, and it’s iffy as to whether, the type of seat belts we have are really protecting folks on, that are riding sideways on buses.
So it gets really complicated when a human can spend 360 degrees inside of a
Anthony: car. I figured it out. We get rid of airbags, we get bit of seat belts. Instead, we use that same foam they use on runways to stop planes. And so you’re in a crash and just boom, a whole bunch of marshmallow fluff comes.
Michael: Ooh, I look, I love it.
Anthony: You’re protected from impacts. You’re absorbed and you got a nice snack. Yeah.
Michael: As long as it’s marked, I’m good for it.
Anthony: I know exactly. Fred will come up with a feeding variation for you. That’ll be good. And that’s,
Marcy Edwards: I don’t see how it can go wrong.
Anthony: It can’t go wrong.
I don’t know why you’d
Fred: say that. It could, you could have it in flavors too. You could have, Cherry one day and peppermint the next make it very attractive.
Anthony: I think depending on the crash, you change the flavor.
Fred: Sure. There you go. I was also thinking about the submarine when you were talking about it, and I was thinking that it would be impossible to keep a teenager from submarine because they always sitting and replying and, slouch as much as possible.
Yeah. And man, those seat belts are gonna zip.
Michael: Posture is really important.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah. Yeah. That’s one of the, with the autonomous vehicle research for safety, that’s one of the primary concerns is we rely a lot on occupant position in order to make sure that the safety restraints are properly used.
But when positions change, you have to adapt and think outside the box for what kind of restraints could restrain an occupant in those scenario. Now,
Fred: Do you do the kinematic modeling on a computer as well as the testing to correlate the two, or are those running on separate
Marcy Edwards: tracks? So we actually, we don’t do that in house, but we.
We are pursuing that avenue for rear impact testing right now. One of the things that we want to start to address in rear impact testing is we know that there’s a difference between males and females. We know that different test severity could be influencing outcomes. And we know that different occupant positions could be influencing outcomes.
But right now we as i h s only test one severity and we only have one rear impact dedicated dummy, and that’s the 50th percentile male. So we’ve chosen rear impact as the avenue that we are gonna try and pursue. Computational modeling and in evaluation testing with. And so that’s a big area that we’re researching right now is how to make that a possibility.
So expanding the types of tests that we do without actually having to expand the number of physical tests that we’re doing.
Fred: Oh, that’s fantastic. Oh, one of the areas that we have spent a lot of energy on is front seat collapse in a rear collision. Have you all seen any trends related to that, or is it, is it serendipitous?
It could be just a response to manufacturing defects or systematic designs or who knows what, but I suppose that’s probably an active research area as well.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah we get a lot of questions about seat failure in rear impact. So we have done some research on it. I think what we found was, is that there modern seats.
Far exceed current federal regulations but that there’s still a range of performance. So we used a 50th percentile mail and did some testing and found that for the front seat occupant, occupant retention all the seats that we tested performed. Reasonably well. But that we did see a large range of performance.
If you had a higher severity or a higher mass occupant that. Spread could increase significantly. And we haven’t pursued what the next step would be there, but we think that there is a potential for. Better consumer information to inform, what the range of performance is in, in seat back strength.
Michael: And I know it gets complicated there because there’s, you’re also juggling the front seat occupants, crashworthiness, and some of the whiplash things that, that you’ve worked on along with the potential. The rear seat occupant to be impacted. So it’s a tough area to figure out how to improve seats in, in, in that
Marcy Edwards: respect.
It is, yeah. And some of the research that we looked at is trying to understand the the. The trade-offs between high severity rear impacts and low severity or whiplash rear impacts. Trying to understand if there are seats that can, both protect an occupant in a high severity rear impact without increasing the likelihood of whiplash injury.
And we found that there were seats in the market that were already doing that, but not. But not all seats were employing the best strategies to do that. So I think there is room for improvement there, but it. Challenging because you have to make sure that you’re balancing a number of things.
The you don’t want to increase likelihood of the more common whiplash injuries in order to address the very rare high severity. But it’s important to make sure that seats are protecting occupants in high severities as well. And then you add in the interactions with the rear seed occupants and that further complicates things.
Fred: My grandchildren, my infant grandsons were in the backseat of a car being driven by their nanny when it was hit by a car going about 70 miles an hour. So I wanna thank everybody personally who was involved in test that contributed to their getting through that experience with no injur. And being just absolutely fine.
So thank you very much. Thank all of your colleagues at I H S for their contribution to that and it’s very personal to me. Yeah, I’m really
Marcy Edwards: glad to hear that they were okay.
Fred: Yeah, they were just fine. Their driver of the woman driving the car was a little bit upset but not injured. It had a happy ending.
I, I love it when that happens. And I guess that’s what we’re all about here. Happy endings for extreme circumstances. So thank you.
Marcy Edwards: Yeah, it’s my pleasure to do this work.
Anthony: Thanks. So before we let you go though, I, I can, I fair to say that you’re an expert on seat belts?
Marcy Edwards: Don’t remember. Okay,
So we ended last week’s episode with these myths about seat belts that I think Nitsa put out. And one of them was a scenario where people are afraid, oh, I don’t wanna use my seatbelt because I will trap me if I get caught under water. And so I put forth the scenario, okay, I’m driving over the George Washington Bridge, I go off, hit the water.
Michael said, the only reason I survived cause I had my seatbelt on. You always see that movie horror thing is it trap you in place. And as the seatbelt expert, do you have one of those knives to cut off the nylon in your car?
Marcy Edwards: I don’t, I Okay, then I
Anthony: don’t need it. If you don’t have it, I don’t need it.
Marcy Edwards: good. I am not a worst case scenario sort of person, so I’m not always thinking about what the worst thing that could happen. I’m a bit of an optimist, so I do not have one of those.
Anthony: Okay. But have you ever heard one of those cases where the seatbelt won’t release?
Marcy Edwards: It’s red. I in movies, yes.
I have not run into those in the real world. So I think your chances that is correct. Your chances are much better if your seatbelt is on in, in almost every scenario.
Anthony: Okay? So you heard it here, folks. Marcy Edwards, senior research engineer at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. It says, wear your seatbelt.
Okay? Wear your absolutely where your seatbelt. Thank you so much for joining us. This was, thank you Marcy, a great convers.
Marcy Edwards: Thank you, Marcy. Welcome. Thank you. It was a pleasure
Anthony: to be here. Until next week, listeners, I know you’re on auto safety.org. Clicking that donate button and filling out the form.
Or you can just keep clicking the donate button, but then fill out the form and hand over your credit card information.
Fred: Hey. Didn’t we forget something about something about armored
Anthony: vehicle. Okay yeah. Okay, so I’ll give an update on this. We put it out there to people saying if we got, I don’t know, five monthly donors in a certain period of time that Fred would reveal his, the story about how he was chased by a tank.
He was not the protestor in Tiananmen Square. He was not in some Vietnam protest. He was not getting chased by the National Guard at Woodstock. His Woodstock story is a totally different story. We can add that on now, or we can save it for two weeks from now. It’s up to you. Oh, let’s save it.
Okay, great. So come back in two weeks and we will tell you that story because everyone met our donations goals. And you’ll hear the story about how a young Fred Perkins out possibly committing a felony, maybe not committing a felony, maybe just in a backyard walking along, and all of a sudden a tank is chasing
Fred: him back.
Thank God for the statute of limit.
Anthony: That’s how we end every episode. What felonies has Fred committed as a youth. All right. Thanks again, Marcy. Until next week everybody.
Fred: Thank you, Marcy. And thank you listeners. Thank you all.