Potential of a Time-Triggered Crash System of a Steering Column on Driver Injuries

Alexander Wesely, Hermann Steffan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern driver compartment restraint systems have at least three key components that work together: safety belt system, airbags, and collapsible steering column. During a crash, a steering column will collapse at a predetermined force called breakaway force. Once the force of a crash has reached the breakaway force threshold, the column will move towards the motor area. When the column moves, the drivers' peak forces and acceleration are decreased because the time and distance that are given to decelerate are increased. The usage of a breakaway force element inside the steering column allows car manufacturers to control the movement of the steering column at a certain point during a crash. Any load below the breakaway force, such as airbag deployment and normal or misuse forces applied by the driver, is absorbed by the system. Today's force-based systems are optimized (design/configure) using various crash configurations, leading to one specific behavior of the column. This article presents an investigation to identify the theoretical potential to reduce the driver's injury probability. In the following discussion, the passive force-activated breakaway system will be replaced with a time-dependent active system in various simulations. These simulations will show that the time-dependent active system has advantages over a traditional passive force-activated breakaway system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-136
Number of pages14
JournalSAE International Journal of Transportation Safety
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Apr 2021


  • Driver crash
  • Restraint systems
  • Steering column

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research
  • Mechanical Engineering


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