What is involved in a case of Vehicle Ejection?

One of the fundamental principles of occupant protection is to keep the occupant safely inside the vehicle during an accident. Unfortunately, it has been our experience that vehicle design defects can make occupants more prone to ejection during an accident. These defects may affect a vehicle in a number of areas.

One of these is a problem with the liftgate, as is found on the back of a minivan. Under very low forces, these liftgates open, often allowing occupants to be ejected. Another problem with liftgates occurs when the liftgate itself is made of fiberglass. During a collision, a large portal for ejection is created when the fiberglass liftgate breaks away. The locks remain locked, but the weak liftgate simply cannot withstand the forces and tears away.

Similarly, door latches are known to fail during collisions. Door latches can fail for various reasons including mechanical problems. Poorly designed doors and latches result in a failure of the door to remain closed during an accident sequence. In fact, certain door latch designs will open simply by forces put on the outer body of the vehicle.

These defective door latches fail during an accident scenario not because of unreasonably high forces on the latch system, but rather due to poor designs which allow the door latch to actuate during the accident sequence.

The windows are another part of the occupant protection system. Although windshields are made of laminated glass, most side and rear windows are made of tempered glass, which shatters and breaks during collisions. Tempered glass breakage allows for ejection, either partial or full, out of the window opening. This may occur in situations where the doors or liftgates remained closed.

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