Crash Test Dummies

by K-Dean

That new car smell would be somewhat altered with the use of human cadavers as crash test dummies.

Sure there are manufactured crash test dummies that can be used to test car collisions, but what could be better then learning from a real human body? Since the 1930s, when researchers at Wayne State University first threw a body down an elevator shaft to see what kind of forces it could sustain, cadavers have been essential to making driving safer. Every aspects of a car’s safety standards has come from the hard work and rough and tumble testing of cadavers.

Ford’s 2011 Explorer is the first vehicle ever built that offers inflatable seat belts. The idea had been in the works for years and had been tested on numerous dummies, including some that mimic children. By performing tests on cadavers, Ford was able find out how the inflatable seat belt would affect internal organs and tissues.

Generally in cadaver tests researchers wrap the body in stockings, including one over its face, for scientific reasons and out of respect. The arms and hands, if still attached, are bound in place to keep them from moving during a simulated crash, and sensors record the forces on various parts. After the testing is complete, researchers x-ray the body and perform an autopsy to see how much damage the cadaver sustained. Ford would not share information about the testing results but since the seat belts are now available for purchase, it seems the cadaver testing results may have been a successful.

Universities which run such tests on cadavers are noticing a decrease in the usage of cadaver testing. Albert King, a professor at Wayne State has been working in cadaver research since 1966 and said that in the testing done with cadavers over the years, approximately 8,500 lives were saved yearly. King used to do cadaver crash testing once a month, but now it is only a few times a year. With modern technology everyone is turning into digital crash testing whenever possible.

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