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Ann Adv Automot Med. 2011;55:243-52.

Planar impacts in rollover crashes: significance, distribution and injury epidemiology.

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  • 1University of Virginia, Center for Applied Biomechanics, Charlottesville, USA Honda R&D Co., Ltd. Automobile R&D Center, Japan.


While one third of all fatal motor vehicle crashes involve rollover of the vehicle, a substantially large portion of these rollover crashes involve planar impacts (e.g., frontal, side or rear impact) that influence the crash kinematics and subsequently the injury outcome. The objective of the study was to evaluate the distribution of planar impacts in rollover crashes, and in particular, to describe the differences in the underlying crash kinematics, injury severity and the regional distribution of injuries when compared to the rollover-dominated crashes without significant planar impact (i.e., primary rollovers). Sampled cases (n=6,900) from the U.S. National Automotive Sampling System - Crashworthiness Data System, representing approximately 3.3 million belted drivers involved in a rollover crash in years 1998-2008, were analyzed. Single vehicle rollover crashes with significant planar impact (21% of all rollover crashes) were in general more likely to result in occupant fatality and involved higher incidence of moderate to severe injuries compared to single vehicle primary rollovers (p<0.05). A substantial proportion of the planar impact rollovers ended in single quarter turn crashes (30%), mostly resulting from a frontal impact (59%). While chest was the most frequently injured body region among all rollover victims sustaining severe injuries, severe injuries sustained in primary rollovers were more isolated (single body region) in comparison to the ones sustained in rollovers with planar impacts. The results emphasize the higher risk of rollover victims sustaining an injury and the differences in distribution of injuries sustained when a planar impact is associated with the rollover crash.

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