Tag Archives: John R. Yannaccone

Seatback Strength

John R. Yannaccone, P.E., Sr. Mechanical Engineer

In 1966, the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act established a set of safety standards for motor vehicles and established the National Highway Safety Bureau, now known as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 207, which focuses on the strength of vehicle seats, was among the standards established. FMVSS 207 includes a requirement for the strength of the seatback, which is tested by applying a rearward force near the top of the seatback and limits the post-test deformation after the seat is subjected to a specified moment or torque (a force applied at a distance). For decades, engineers have argued the FMVSS 207 requirements are inadequate for the safety of occupants in rear impacts.

When a vehicle is struck from behind, the seatback provides the primary means of restraint to the occupant. When the seatback deforms rearward, it can result in several issues. Once the seat reaches around 45° recline angle, it starts to lose the ability to retain the occupant and they begin to slide up the seatback. This can result in the occupant impacting the rear seat with their head or being ejected from under the seatbelt, exposing the occupant to a wide range of injuries. In addition to affecting the front seat occupants of the vehicle, this deformation of a seatback can expose backseat occupants to potential injuries.

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Trailer Separation Mayhem

lowboy trailer gooseneck

John R. Yannaccone, P.E., Sr. Mechanical Engineer

Case Synopsis: A heavy duty equipment hauler was delivering a large piece of equipment to an industrial plant. After the equipment was off-loaded, the driver wanted to reconfigure the low-boy gooseneck trailer by removing a section of the trailer so it was shorter for the trip back to his employer. The middle section of the trailer needed to be unbolted and removed to allow the front and rear section of the trailer to be re-connected for the return trip. The driver asked if the industrial plant had anyone to assist him in shortening the trailer, to which they offered one of the plant’s truck mechanics to assist him.

The trailer manufacturer had specific instructions regarding the sequence of steps to safely separate the mid section of the trailer, using cribbing and the hydraulics of the gooseneck to manipulate the trailer. The truck driver was directing the plant mechanic as they worked together to remove the bolts holding the center section of the trailer. During the process, the driver instructed the mechanic to tap/drive out a shim between two sections of the trailer. When the shim came free, a portion of the trailer dropped down and landed on the foot of the mechanic, trapping it under the trailer. Other workers at the plant used a forklift to lift the trailer section off the mechanic’s foot. He suffered severe crush injuries to his foot, which resulted in permanent disability.

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Coffee Brewer Water Supply Line Failure

Coffee Brewer

John R. Yannaccone, PE, Senior Mechanical Engineer

Case Synopsis: Upon opening for business following a long holiday weekend, a building maintenance person discovered water leaking into the lobby of the building. The source of the water was found to be leaking from a plastic water line that supplied water to a coffee brewer. The water supply was turned off and it was discovered that the water line had developed a hole near the coffee brewer.

Expert Analysis: Photographs of the area of water supply tubing showed the tubing had bulged outward and then burst. There was no evidence that the tubing had been bent or abraded, leading to its failure. The area of bulging was indicative of the tubing being exposed to either high pressures or high temperatures. The plastic material the tubing was made from was suitable for a cold-water supply line and was rated above the expected temperature and pressure for the water supply. A review of the coffee brewer’s installation manual indicated they recommended the brewer be installed with copper tubing.

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Child Passenger Safety Week 2019

Child Seat Safety

John R. Yannaccone, P.E., Senior Mechanical Engineer

September 15th to 21st is Child Passenger Safety Week, a time to make sure children are traveling safely. Every year, motor vehicle crashes rank high on the list of leading causes of injury and fatality for children in most age groups. Here are some points to consider:

  • Children over 4’9” are likely riding in a seatbelt. It is important to make sure the seatbelt fits them properly, as they are generally designed for adults. While there is no single criteria indicating when a child is large enough for a seatbelt without a booster or child’s car seat, there are steps you can take to determine when a child can rely solely on the seatbelt. (Is Your Child Big Enough to Ride in a Seatbelt)
  • If the child is smaller than 4’9”, they should be riding in a car seat. There are two important checks that should be made for safety. First, check the expiration date to confirm the child car seat is not past its allowed lifetime, which is typically 6 years. Second, verify the car seat has no open recalls. To do this you will need the car seat manufacturer, model number and date of manufacture. Checking for recalls can be done on either the manufacturer’s website or on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website.
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Counterfeit Car Seat

Child Car Seat

John R. Yannaccone, P.E., Senior Mechanical Engineer

What do wallets, purses, jewelry, and child car seats have in common? All are on a list of counterfeit items available for purchase. That’s right – child car seats have recently been added to the list per reports of parents and caregivers. While buying a knock-off Coach bag or Rolex might mean you overpaid for the item, the purchase of a counterfeit car seat can place your child at risk.

As with other products, counterfeit car seats are not manufactured to the same quality and standards of the genuine product. This includes poor fitting and flimsy parts; missing components traditionally found on car seats; hazardous chemicals in the fabric covers, and plastic parts in places where metal components are typically used. While these counterfeit car seats may have a similar appearance to the genuine car seats, it is likely they weren’t tested to the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, may perform poorly in a crash and place child occupants at increased risk of injury.

While some of the counterfeit car seats lack the labels used on genuine car seats, it is likely some include similar or identical labels to those used by manufacturers. They may include an actual model number from a car seat manufacturer. So how do you recognize a counterfeit car seat in order to assure the seat you are purchasing / using is safe?

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Cargo Barrier Failure in Armored Car

John R. Yannaccone, PE, Senior Mechanical Engineer ::::

Case Synopsis: On a dark and foggy morning an armored car, occupied with a driver and guard, was transporting assorted monetary cargo. The guard was situated in a seat located in the rear cargo area. As the armored car was traveling down the road, the driver failed to see a stopped tanker and drove into its rear. Upon impact, the cargo in the rear of the armored car shifted forward and impacted the rear of the guard’s seat, driving him into the bulkhead separating the cargo compartment from the driver’s area. The guard sustained serious injuries resulting in partial paralysis.

Expert Analysis: Inspection of the armored car revealed that the damage to the guard’s seat was consistent with it being loaded from behind and deforming it forward. There was a small bar, intended to serve as a barrier, to prevent the cargo from shifting, which was heavily deformed and had separated from its mounting points, allowing the cargo to move forward during the crash. In addition to the inadequate strength of the barrier, the basic design of the low bar was not sufficient to prevent heavy cargo from getting to the guard seated in the cargo area.

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