Assessment of Fuel System Safety Technology Use in 2003 Model Year Vehicles 2005-01-1423
In 1967, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) introduced the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 301 “Fuel System Integrity”, to ensure minimum fuel system integrity requirements were met. Recent studies of FARS and state data have shown a dramatic reduction of fire rates in motor vehicle crashes over the past 30 years. Design features and safety components are present in today's fleet that were not present when the standard was issued.
An investigation of the state-of-the-art in automotive fuel systems was conducted to examine the features of fuel systems in the 2003 fleet of vehicles. These features, in combination, have contributed to the reduction in fire rates. The investigation consisted primarily of an in-vehicle inspection of 89 fuel tank installations and a further investigation of fuel tank fire safety technologies.
Fuel tank design features and the presence of system components that would aid in the prevention or mitigation of post crash fires were documented and entered into a database. Additional information relating to the fuel line routing, the use of fire safety technologies and the proximity of potentially aggressive components were also documented.
It is estimated that 80% of vehicles sold in 2003 are represented in the database when sister models and corporate cousins are considered.
A summary of some of the fuel safety features and the frequency of their presence is presented in the paper.