1994-03-01

Characteristics of Specific Automobile Bumpers in Low-Velocity Impacts 940916

There are many bumper-to-bumper automobile collisions in which a vehicle occupant claims injury but where there is little or no outward damage to the vehicles. On vehicles equipped with shock-absorber-type bumper isolators, the only “damage” often consists of compression marks left on the isolator piston tube and scuffs on the bumper.
This paper examines the behavior of specific automobile bumpers in aligned low-velocity collisions. Specifically, empirical data gathered during numerous (currently 660) vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-barrier collisions are presented and relationships between isolator compression and vehicle impact severity are developed. General trends among all types of isolators and trends specific to vehicle manufacturers are identified and discussed. Damage threshold data are also presented.
The effects of additional vehicle mass, braking during the collision, and large differences between the amount of compression on the left and right bumper isolators are explored. Vehicle motions analogous to rear-end impacts are discussed and new data from tests using human volunteers in low-velocity rear-end collisions are presented.

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