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27 April 2005 PR 05/30

Loughborough students’ vehicle safety design through to final

A unique design aimed at reducing the number of neck injuries caused by car accidents has won two Loughborough students a place in the final of an international competition.

Simon Clark and Ross Crouch, who are both final-year students in the University’s Wolfson School of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, will be travelling to America later this year to see if their creation has been chosen as the overall winner of the Student Safety Technology Design Competition.
Pictured from the left is Dr Memis Acar, Andrew Roberts of Transport Research Laboratories UK, Ross Crouch, Simon Clark, Jerzy Kownacki of the Motor Transport Institute of Poland and Dominique Cesari of the French National Institute for Transport and Safety Research.

The competition is being hosted by the 19th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV). It gives young scholars from North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific an exciting opportunity to design, build, and demonstrate a cost effective conceptual scale model of a vehicle safety technology. To enter the contest students have to come up with a design that focuses on a real-world vehicle safety problem, and one which aims to reduce the number of crashes and/or mitigating the resulting injuries and preventing fatalities caused by vehicle collisions.

The title of the Loughborough project is ‘Design and Development of a Novel Head Restraint System’.

Ross Crouch explains: “Neck injuries in rear-end car collisions is a problem on the increase. More than one million European citizens suffer neck injuries from car collisions every year and these injuries often give rise to long lasting consequences for the individuals. The economical cost for the European society for such injuries is estimated to be in the order of five to 10 billion Euros each year.”

Simon Clark added: “Head restraints that meet positioning requirements, that is behind and close to a occupant’s head, can reduce the risk of neck injury in rear-end crashes. But the latest UK ratings of head restraints show only 28 percent were in the right position and that 72 percent of drivers failed to adjust their head restraints correctly. If not adjusted correctly, even a good head restraint system would not protect the occupant to its full potential.”

The Loughborough students’ designed a head restraint that adjusts its position automatically and continuously to provide the correct support for the vehicle occupant’s head. The scale model prototype uses a sensor system to determine the location of the occupant’s head and move the restraint into the correct position.

Their design impressed judges so much that it has been chosen as the European regional winner and one of six international finalists. The overall winner of the competition will be announced at the ESV conference in Washington DC this summer.

Simon and Ross will be traveling to the conference, where they will have to demonstrate and display their prototype to an international panel of judges, who will select one first place winner and one runner up. Both will receive a plaque and recognition for their achievements from vehicle safety engineering experts from around the globe.

Dr Memis Acar, who supervised the students’ entry in the competition said: “Simon and Ross worked hard to design and build this novel head restraint system that I proposed to them and duly deserve a place in the international finals. The concept that they demonstrate in this design should help to reduce whiplash injuries and save millions for the economy.”


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Notes to editors

  1. For further information about the competition visit the website:
  2. Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place Loughborough in the top flight of UK universities, and industry highlights Loughborough in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 45% of the University’s income is for research. The University has been awarded four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; and for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development.

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