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Traffic Inj Prev. 2016 May 18;17(4):423-9. doi: 10.1080/15389588.2015.1081898. Epub 2015 Sep 16.

Simulator study of young driver's instinctive response of lower extremity to a collision.

Gao Z1,2,3, Li C1, Hu H1, Zhao H2,3, Chen C4, Yu H2,3.

Author information

a State Key Laboratory of Automotive Simulation and Control, Jilin University , Changchun , P. R. China.
b State Key Laboratory of Vehicle NVH and Safety Technology, Changan Automobile Holding Ltd. , Chongqing , P. R. China.
c Changan Automobile Holding Ltd. Automotive Engineering Institute , Chongqing , P. R. China.
d Department of Biomedical Engineering , Wayne State University , Detroit , Michigan.



A driver's instinctive response of the lower extremity in braking movement consists of two parts, including reaction time and braking reaction behavior. It is critical to consider these two components when conducting studies concerning driver's brake movement intention and injury analysis. The purposes of this study were to investigate the driver reaction time to an oncoming collision and muscle activation of lower extremity muscles at the collision moment. The ultimate goal is to provide data that aid in both the optimization of intervention time of an active safety system and the improvement of precise protection performance of a passive safety system.


A simulated collision scene was constructed in a driving simulator, and 40 young volunteers (20 male and 20 female) were recruited for tests. Vehicle control parameters and electromyography characteristics of eight muscles of the lower extremity were recorded. The driver reaction time was divided into pre-motor time (PMT) and muscle activation time (MAT). Muscle activation level (ACOL) at the collision moment was calculated and analysed.


PMT was shortest for the tibialis anterior (TA) muscle (243∼317 ms for male and 278∼438 ms for female). Average MAT of the TA ranged from 28-55 ms. ACOL was large (5∼31% for male and 5∼23% for female) at 50 km/h, but small (<12%) at 100 km/h. ACOL of the gluteus maximus was smallest (<3%) in the 25 and 100 km/h tests. ACOL of RF of men was significantly smaller than that of women at different speeds.


Ankle dorsiflexion is firstly activated at the beginning of the emergency brake motion. Males showed stronger reaction ability than females, as suggested by male's shorter PMT. The detection of driver's brake intention is upwards of 55ms sooner after introducing the electromyography. Muscle activation of the lower extremity is an important factor for 50 km/h collision injury analysis. For higher speed collisions, this might not be a major factor. The activations of certain muscles may be ignored for crash injury analysis at certain speeds, such as gluteus maximus at 25 or 100 km/h. Furthermore, the activation of certain muscles should be differentiated between males and females during injury analysis.


braking reaction behavior; collision; driving simulator; electromyography; instinctive response; lower extremity

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