Passenger muscle responses in lane change and lane change with braking maneuvers using two belt configurations: Standard and reversible pre-pretensioner

Objective: The introduction of integrated safety technologies in new car models calls for an improved understanding of the human occupant response in precrash situations. The aim of this article is to extensively study occupant muscle activation in vehicle maneuvers potentially occurring in precrash situations with different seat belt configurations.

Methods: Front seat male passengers wearing a 3-point seat belt with either standard or pre-pretensioning functionality were exposed to multiple autonomously carried out lane change and lane change with braking maneuvers while traveling at 73 km/h. This article focuses on muscle activation data (surface electromyography [EMG] normalized using maximum voluntary contraction [MVC] data) obtained from 38 muscles in the neck, upper extremities, the torso, and lower extremities. The raw EMG data were filtered, rectified, and smoothed. All muscle activations were presented in corridors of mean ± one standard deviation. Separate Wilcoxon signed ranks tests were performed on volunteers’ muscle activation onset and amplitude considering 2 paired samples with the belt configuration as an independent factor.

Results: In normal driving conditions prior to any of the evasive maneuvers, activity levels were low (<2% MVC) in all muscles except for the lumbar extensors (3–5.5% MVC). During the lane change maneuver, selective muscles were activated and these activations restricted the sideway motions due to inertial loading. Averaged muscle activity, predominantly in the neck, lumbar extensor, and abdominal muscles, increased up to 24% MVC soon after the vehicle accelerated in lateral direction for all volunteers. Differences in activation time and amplitude between muscles in the right and left sides of the body were observed relative to the vehicle’s lateral motion. For specific muscles, lane changes with the pre-pretensioner belt were associated with earlier muscle activation onsets and significantly smaller activation amplitudes than for the standard belt (P <.05).

Conclusions: Applying a pre-pretensioner belt affected muscle activations; that is, amplitude and onset time. The present muscle activation data complement the results in a preceding publication, the volunteers’ kinematics and the boundary conditions from the same data set. An effect of belt configuration was also seen on previously published volunteers’ kinematics with lower lateral and forward displacements for head and upper torso using the pre-pretensioner belt versus the standard belt. The data provided in this article can be used for validation and further improvement of active human body models with active musculature in both sagittal and lateral loading scenarios intended for simulation of some evasive maneuvers that potentially occur prior to a crash.


Ghazaleh Ghaffari, Karin Brolin, Bengt Pipkorn, Lotta Jakobsson, Johan Davidsson
Research area
Publication type
Published in
Traffic Injury Prevention
Year of publication

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