1984-02-01

Crashworthiness Rating System and Accident Data: Convergences and Divergences 840200

The goal of this paper is to examine the validity of the Crashworthiness Rating Method (part of the New Car Assessment Program -NCAP - created by NHTSA) with reference to real-life accident data. A program was set up to verify the quality of predictive characteristics of vehicle models' real passive safety protection based on 35 mph crash tests against a 0° barrier.
The Crashworthiness Rating Method was applied in the French context because seat belt use has been mandatory in France for over 10 years, and we have access to real-life accident files whose size and categories (type of vehicle model, crushed area, obstacle struck, seat occupied, age, and use of seat belt) allowed us to select cases appropriately and thoroughly. Additionally, the vehicle models which are representative of the French vehicle fleet were tested as if they were part of the NCAP.
The results of crashworthiness rating tests expressed by criteria obtained on dummies and also by the OPSEM or the GILLIS index, were compared with accident statistics results expressed in the form of the fatality rate and the social cost index.
None of the comparisons made (including vehicle model rating) showed any significant convergence between the NCAP-type tests and accident statistics.
The discussion of the reasons for these divergences takes into account the conditions themselves of the NCAP test and the interpretations to which it lends itself, as well as the irrationality of the whole procedure of the method, whose very premises disregard the most basic lessons of accidentology.

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