Side Impact Regulatory Trends, Crash Environment and Injury Risk in the USA 2015-22-0004
Light duty vehicles in the US are designed to meet and exceed regulatory standards, self-imposed industry agreements and safety rating tests conducted by NHTSA and IIHS. The evolution of side impact regulation in the US from 1973 to 2015 is discussed in the paper along with two key industry agreements in 2003 affecting design of restraint systems and structures for side impact protection. A combination of all the above influences shows that vehicles in the US are being designed to more demanding and comprehensive requirements than in any other region of the world.
The crash environment in the US related to side impacts was defined based on data in the nationally representative crash database NASS. Crash environment factors, including the distribution of cars, light trucks and vans (LTV’s), and medium-to-heavy vehicles (MHV’s) in the fleet, and the frequency of their interactions with one another in side impacts, were considered. Other factors like, crash severity in terms of closing velocity between two vehicles involved in crash, gender and age of involved drivers in two-vehicle and single vehicle crashes, were also examined.
Injury risks in side impacts to drivers and passengers were determined in various circumstances such as near-side, far-side, and single vehicle crashes as a function of crash severity, in terms of estimated closing speed or lateral delta-V. Also injury risks in different pairs of striking and struck cars and LTV’s, were estimated. A logistic regression model for studying injury risks in two vehicle crashes was developed. The risk factors included in the model include case and striking vehicles, consisting of cars, SUV’s, vans, and pickup trucks, delta-V, damage extent, occupant proximity to the impact side, age and gender of the occupant, and belt use. Results show that car occupants make up the vast majority of serious-to-fatally injured occupants. Injury rates of car occupants in two-vehicle collision are highest when the car is struck by a pickup and lowest when struck by a car. This was the case across all lateral delta-V ranges. Additionally, near-side injury rates are substantially higher than those in far-side impacts.