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Most of the world knows them as crash test dummies. Scientifically, they go by the name of Anthropomorphic Test Devices or ATDs. Often seen in car commercials, the black and yellow (albeit battered) crash test dummy is a symbol of safety. 
 
These models take the heat for us- testing the effects that collision impact to a vehicle could have on the human body. Crash test dummies have become sophisticated models, with accurate neck response and head rotation. The most advanced ATDs are designed to measure the effect of collisions on the skull, pelvis, shoulders, extremities, hips, ribs, spine, and internal organs. The dummy’s joints perfectly match a human’s, down to knuckles on the fingers and toes.
 
The dummies come in all shapes and sizes; they are modelled after women, men, young adults, children, and infants. Child dummies were pivotal in the study that proves seatbelts aren’t right for everyone. (In Pennsylvania, a child between the ages of four and eight must be in a booster seat.) Both adult and child models cost about $100,000 each.  ATDs have come a long way from their beginnings to precisely mimicking the human body -- but it wasn’t always that way. In the early 1900s, human cadavers were used as test models to determine what aspects of a vehicle could be improved to manufacture a safer product. Due to ethical backlash from the public and lack of diversity in the test subjects, human cadavers were not a suitable model to conduct detailed research.  Live animals were next in line to be used as “guinea” pigs. Pigs actually became the most common animal used in collision testing. A pig’s internal structure is similar to a human’s, so they were often put upright behind a steering wheel. Animal rights groups vehemently opposed this scientific research, and animal testing was quickly abandoned. 
 
In 1949, “Sierra Sam” came to be the first ATD. Sam resembled an average adult male, but he was slightly taller and heavier. Sam’s neck and spine were also quite rigid, which did not allow for accurate measurement of potential injuries. Sam also did not demonstrate what might happen to smaller adults or children in the front or rear seats. Since then, many advancements have been made to collect accurate data in collision testing, now with the Hybrid III “family” of ATDs.
 
So, what are the yellow and black circles on the sides of the dummies’ heads? Those are calibration marks, so researchers can measure the movement of the head while watching slow-motion videos of the collisions.  
 
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Forty Fort Location
1097 Wyoming Avenue
Forty Fort, PA 18704
Phone: 570-718-1501

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Kingston, PA 18704
Phone: 570-283-1504

Forty Fort Location
1097 Wyoming Ave.
Forty Fort, PA 18704
Phone: 570-718-1501

Kingston Location
300 Pierce Street
Kingston, PA 18704
Phone: 570-283-1504

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