Motor vehicle crashes can produce serious head or brain injuries due to contact with interior vehicle structures. It has been found through both field data analysis and experimental testing that many of these brain injuries occur in oblique crashes, even with the deployment of air bags. Research has determined that rotational head velocity is strongly correlated to the risk of brain injury through metrics such as Brain Rotational Injury Criteria (BrIC). The severity of rotational head motion could be related to the friction force developed during contact between the head and air bags. Although crash test dummy head skins are designed with appropriate mass properties and anthropometry as well as material type and thickness to emulate the proper impact response of the human head, it is not known whether they accurately represent the frictional properties of human skin during air bag interaction. This study experimentally characterized the friction coefficient between human skin and air bag fabrics using a pin-on-disc tribometer. Skin samples were harvested from different locations (forehead, cheeks, chin) from specimens of post-mortem human subjects (PMHS). Fabric samples were cut from six different air bags spanning various vehicle manufacturers and interior mounting locations. For comparison, four types of dummy head skin samples were also tested against the air bag samples. Friction was measured between different skinair bag material combinations at various linear velocities and normal forces. It was determined that the difference between human and dummy skin friction with the air bag samples varied significantly among different air bags; however, the effect of linear speed, normal force, and human skin sample harvesting location on friction coefficient is negligible. Except for one air bag fabric, the friction coefficients of the dummy skin are higher than those quantified for human skin.

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