Since statistics indicate that front impact is the major accident type, Ford has been studying energy-absorbing structures for some time. Early designs such as the “ball and tube” and “rail splitter” were discarded in favor of the “S” frame. Details of the design approach and testing are given in this paper.
Design objectives were increased effective collapse distance, compatibility with production practices, and maintenance of satisfactory noise, vibration, and harshness levels. Safety objectives are improved passenger compartment integrity and reduction of seat belt loads.
Barrier crash tests at 30 mph (equivalent to collision into standing vehicle at 50 mph) were used to evaluate the design of the “S” frame.
Results of testing indicate that occupant restraint with seat belts, combined with front end structural improvements, offer the most promise for injury reduction during service front impact accidents.