Loughborough University
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Fetus safety in motor vehicle accidents

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posted on 2014-11-20, 15:24 authored by Moustafa Moustafa
Motor vehicle accidents are statistically the major cause of accidental severe injuries for pregnant women and fetuses fatality. Volunteers, post mortem human surrogates, anthropomorphic crash test devices and computational occupant models are used to improve human safety in motor vehicle accidents. However, due to the ethical issues, pregnant women and their fetuses cannot be used as volunteers or post mortem human surrogates to investigate the effects of crashes on them. The only anthropomorphic test device representing pregnant women is very limited in design and lacks a fetus. There is no computational pregnant occupant model with a fetus other than 'Expecting'. This thesis focuses on understanding the risk of placental abruption for pregnant drivers involved in road accidents, hence assessing the risk to fetus fatality. An extensive review of existing models in general and pregnant women models in particular is reported. The time line of successive development of crash test dummies and their positive effect on automotive passive safety design are examined. 'Expecting', the computational pregnant occupant model with a finite element uterus and a multibody fetus, is used in this research to determine the strain levels in the uteroplacental interface. External factors, such as the effect of restraint systems and crash speeds are considered. Internal factors, such as the effect of placental location in the uterus, and the inclusion and exclusion of a fetus are investigated. The head of the multibody fetus is replaced with a deformable head model to investigate the effects of a deformable fetus head on strain levels. The computational pregnant driver model with a fetus offers a more realistic representation of the response to crash impact hence provides a useful tool to investigate fetus safety in motor vehicle accidents. Seat belt, airbag and steering wheel interact directly with the pregnant abdomen and play an important role on fetus safety in motor vehicle accidents. The results prove that the use of a three-point seat belt with the airbag offer the greatest protection to the fetus for frontal crash impacts. The model without a fetus underestimates the strain levels. The outcome of this research should assist automobile manufacturers to address the potential safety issues at the design level.


Loughborough University



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© Moustafa Moustafa

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This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

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A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University.

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