Investigation of traffic accidents involving seated pedestrians using a finite element simulation-based approach

Daniel Grindle, Ahmed Balubaid, Costin Untaroiu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Pedestrians who use wheelchairs (seated pedestrians) report 36% - 75% higher mortality rates than standing pedestrians in car-to-pedestrian collisions but the cause of this mortality is unknown. This is the first study to investigate the cause of seated pedestrian mortality in vehicle impacts using finite element simulations. In this study a manual wheelchair model was developed using geometry taken from publicly available CAD data, and was tested to meet ISO standards. The GHBMC 50th percentile male simplified occupant model was used as the seated pedestrian and the EuroNCAP family car and sports utility vehicle models were used as the impacting vehicles. The seated pedestrian was impacted by the two vehicles at three different locations on the vehicle and at 30 and 40 km/h. In 75% of the impacts the pedestrian was ejected from the wheelchair. In the rest of the impacts, the pedestrian and wheelchair were pinned to the vehicle and the pedestrian was not ejected. The underlying causes of seated pedestrian mortality in these impacts were head and brain injury. Life-threatening head injury risks (0.0% - 100%) were caused by the ground-pedestrian contact, and life-threatening brain injury risks (0.0 - 97.9%) were caused by the initial vehicle-wheelchair contact and ground-pedestrian contact. Thoracic and abdominal compression reported no risks of life-threatening injuries, but may do so in faster impacts or with different wheelchair designs. Protective equipment such as the wheelchair seatbelt or personal airbag may be useful in reducing injury risks but future research is required to investigate their efficacy.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalComputer Methods in Biomechanics and Biomedical Engineering
StatePublished - May 4 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-05-09
Acknowledgements: Ahmed Balubaid was sponsored by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), Saudi Arabia through a Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Program at Virginia Tech, USA; Summer 2021. Global Human Body Models Consortium.
This publication acknowledges KAUST support, but has no KAUST affiliated authors.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Bioengineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Human-Computer Interaction


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