Querying the NHTSA Test Database for Vehicle Performance Characteristics 940917

Data for 1,745 tests of 1965 through 1992 vehicles are readily available in computerized format in the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration crash test database. The tests are of 2,446 vehicles containing 2,833 occupants and include vehicle into vehicle, vehicle into barrier, impactor into vehicle, vehicle into impactor, and several other configurations for production and modified vehicles. The test data are divided into four classifications pertaining to test, vehicle, barrier, and occupant parameters.
The database format enables study of the performance of a particular vehicle, vehicle class, or vehicle characteristic. The numerous comment fields permit rapid identification of special tests, test errors, and vehicle modifications. The ready availability of test reports from which the database is derived allows clarification of comments and questionable data contained within the database.
To investigate the utility of the database, frontal barrier tests at nominal speeds of 30 and 35 mph were collected. Tests that were invalidated due to testing errors or that involved modified vehicles were eliminated from the mix, leaving 223 tests at 30 mph and 364 at 35 mph. These tests included 1978-1992 model year passenger cars, trucks, and vans.
Vehicle performance measures including crush, engine and firewall displacement, and initial kinetic energy were examined versus vehicle characteristics such as weight and wheelbase. Occupant performance measures including Head Injury Criterion (HIC), peak 3 ms chest acceleration, and average maximum femur load were compared against vehicle characteristics such as restraint type and occupant compartment geometry.


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