Opportunities for Frontal Crash Protection at Speeds Greater than 35 MPH 910807
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sponsored extensive research to improve the frontal protection of motor vehicles. Most of the research was conducted during the 1970's when belt usage rates were less than 10%. At that time, the research objectives did not anticipate the combination of air bags and three point manual belts as the restraint of choice for the 1990's. Consequently, little research was undertaken to extend the performance of this combination. However, the research conducted at that time offers opportunities for significant additional improvements in frontal protection. The purpose of this paper is to summarize some of the relevant research which was sponsored by NHTSA under the direction of the authors. Results will be highlighted which are particularly applicable to current vehicle configurations. Opportunities for further improvement, and required research are discussed. The IVHS (Intelligent Vehicle-Highway System) program now underway at the Department of Transportation offers a mechanism for achieving significant improvements in occupant protection. The ability to tailor occupant protection to occupant size and age, and vehicle crash configuration and severity are all potential benefits of “Intelligent Vehicle” technology. The resulting technology, could offer crash protection to a larger segment of the population and at crash severities well above 35 mph.