Browse Publications Technical Papers 2001-06-0203


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) acquires detailed engineering information on new and rapidly changing technologies in real world crashes utilizing the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS CDS), Special Crash Investigations (SCI) and Crash Injury Research and Engineering Network (CIREN) programs. The data are used by NHTSA, the automotive industry and consumer groups to evaluate the performance of motor vehicles in crashes. Currently, the primary metric used to represent crash severity in NHTSA programs is the delta in velocity (DV). The principle source for the DV estimates in the NHTSA programs is a computer algorithm. The reconstruction computer program has a number of limitations. As a result, only about 38 percent of the NASS cases have reported DV.
Beginning with its 1994 model year vehicles, General Motors (GM) began producing a fleet of vehicles that recorded the DV. With the assistance of GM, SCI began collecting the DV from these vehicles’ Event Data Recorders (EDR) on crashes of special interest to the Agency. In early 2000, a commercially available tool to read the output from General Motors vehicles’ event data recorders became publicly available. NHTSA has implemented 50 of these units into their field data collection.
In 2000, NHTSA and Ford Motor Company (Ford) initiated a collaborative effort to perform case-by-case evaluation of the real world performance of Ford’s advanced occupant protection technologies. Particularly noteworthy is the technical analysis of the EDR output. The EDR data has provided invaluable information relating to occupant status, severity assessment and deployment control in researching crashes with advanced occupant protection systems.
NHTSA is expanding its databases to allow event data to be stored. For the 2000 data collection year, variables were added to the NASS to identify if a vehicle is equipped with an on-board recorder and, if data was downloaded. Additionally, an open format field was provided for recording the data collected. Future enhancement will include the automation of all EDR output.
This paper will present information from NHTSA’s NASS and SCI data collection programs concerning crash investigations of vehicles equipped with event data recorders. The focus of the paper will be to provide information on specific findings from the event data recorder compared to the physical evidence and computer reconstruction models.


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