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Technical Paper

Comparison of Vehicle Structural Integrity and Occupant Injury Potential in Full-frontal and Offset-frontal Crash Tests

The frontal crash standard in the USA specifies that the full front of a vehicle impact a rigid barrier. Subsequently, the European Union developed a frontal crash standard that requires 40 percent of the front of a vehicle to impact a deformable barrier. The present study conducted paired crashes of vehicles using the full-frontal barrier procedure and the 40 percent offset deformable barrier procedure. In part, the study was to examine the feasibility of adding an offset test procedure to the frontal crash standard in the USA. Frontal-offset and full-frontal testing was conducted using both the mid-size (50th percentile male Hybrid III) and the small stature (5th percentile female Hybrid III) dummies. Five vehicle models were used in the testing: Dodge Neon, Toyota Camry, Ford Taurus, Chevrolet Venture and Ford Contour. In the crash tests, all dummies were restrained with the available safety belt systems and frontal air bags.
Technical Paper

The New Car Assessment Program Has It Led to Stiffer Light Trucks and Vans over the Years?

Since model year 1983, one hundred and seventy five light trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles (LTVs) have been included in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) frontal crash tests. In this frontal test, vehicles are crashed at 35 mph such that the entire front impacts against a rigid, fixed barrier. Instrumented anthropometric dummies are placed in the driver and right front passenger seats. Accelerometers are placed on the vehicle to record the response of the structure during the crash. A number of recent papers have examined the compatibility of LTVs and cars in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions. The studies in these papers, generally, consider three factors for vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility: (1) mass, (2) stiffness, and (3) geometry. On June 5, 1998, Transport Canada and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration held a forum entitled “Transport-NHTSA International Dialogue on Vehicle Compatibility,” in Windsor, Canada.
Technical Paper

Upper Neck Response of the Belt and Air Bag Restrained 50th Percentile Hybrid III Dummy in the USA's New Car Assessment Program

Since 1994, the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has compiled upper neck loads for the belt and air bag restrained 50th percentile male Hybrid III dummy. Over five years from 1994 to 1998, in frontal crash tests, NCAP collected upper neck data for 118 passenger cars and seventy-eight light trucks and vans. This paper examines these data and attempts to assess the potential for neck injury based on injury criteria included in FMVSS No. 208 (for the optional sled test). The paper examines the extent of serious neck injury in real world crashes as reported in the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS). The results suggest that serious neck injuries do occur at higher speeds for crashes involving occupants restrained by belts in passenger cars.
Technical Paper


Since 1990, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) implemented a dynamic side impact compliance test. This compliance test, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 214, is a nearly right angle side impact in which the striking vehicle moves at 53.6 kmph into the struck vehicle. In 1997, NHTSA began testing passenger cars in side impact in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). In the USA NCAP side impact, the striking vehicle is towed at a 8 kmph higher speed than in the compliance test. An analysis has begun on the data from the first NCAP side impact tests, thirty-two in number. In the crashes, accelerometers were installed in the door and door frames of the struck vehicle. Using the accelerometers on the vehicle structure and in the side impact dummy, the crash event was investigated. One tool used in the investigation was the velocity-versus-time diagram.
Technical Paper

Frontal Air Bag Deployment in Side Crashes

NHTSA conducted seventy-six side impact FMVSS No. 214 compliance tests from 1994 through 1997. The compliance tests are nearly right angle side impacts with low longitudinal components of change of velocity (Δv). Frontal air bag deployments were found to have occurred for 34% of the driver bags and 32% of the front passenger bags in these compliance-tested passenger cars. In 1997, NHTSA began testing passenger cars 'in side impact in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The NCAP crash tests are conducted at a higher speed than the compliance tests. The cars in the NCAP side impact tests also had low longitudinal components of Δv. Approximately 40% of the twenty-six passenger cars tested in the 1997 Side Impact NCAP had their frontal air bags deploy. Real world crash data were examined to determine if frontal air bags are deploying in right angle side impacts on the roads of the US.
Technical Paper

The New Car Assessment Program:Five Star Rating System and Vehicle Safety Performance Characteristics

In the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), beginning with the model year 1994 vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) developed and adopted a simplified nonnumeric format for presenting the comparative frontal crashworthiness safety information to consumers. This paper presents the basis for the development of this “star rating” system. The injury probability functions which are used for the star rating system are also applied to the results of the recent NCAP real-world correlation studies and a review of these studies is given. The safety performance for restrained occupants as measured in NCAP is dependent on several parameters which include: the design of the restraint system, the maintenance of the integrity of the occupant space, and the energy management performance of the front structure.
Technical Paper

The New Car Assessment Program - Historical Review and Effect

This report is a condensed version of the December 1993 New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) report to Congress and provides: an historical review and future goals for NCAP. the results of an 18-month study to assess consumer and media needs in understanding and promoting the use of NCAP data. This included consumer focus groups and media studies. These studies indicated that consumers and the media desire comparative safety information on vehicles, a simplified NCAP format to better understand and utilize the crash test results, and would like to see NCAP expanded to include other crash modes. studies of real-world crashes versus NCAP crash tests. These studies conclude that NCAP test conditions approximate real-world crash conditions covering a major segment of the frontal crash safety problem and that there is a significant correlation between NCAP results and real-world fatality risks for restrained drivers.
Technical Paper

Update of the NHTSA Research Activity in Thoracic Side impact Protection for the Front Seat Occupant

Since the 1984 publication of the results of NHTSA's initial research on thoracic side impact protection, substantial progress has been made. Specifically, the NASS data have been reviewed relative to side impacts, an updated injury criterion has been developed, the MVMA has conducted a very significant crash test project, and the NHTSA has conducted additional full system production vehicle tests. The review of the NASS data and a comparison with the previously used NCSS data indicate the thoracic injury remains the highest ranking injury in non-rollover, non-ejection side impacts. The updated injury criterion, TTI-86, is applied to the side impact dummies in the modified vehicle tests which have been conducted by NHTSA and MVMA. The TTI-86 is also applied to twenty production vehicle tests which have been conducted by NHTSA. The improved performance of the modified vehicles is compared to the average performance of the twenty production vehicles.
Technical Paper

The Safety Performance of Production Vehicles in Side Impacts

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has tested 12 current production cars in a series of controlled side impacts. As measured by the impact responses of NHTSA side impact dummies, the cars were found to vary dramatically in their capability to provide occupant protection. For the median-aged side-struck occupant, the potential for serious thoracic injury was found to range from a low of 9 percent for the 4-door AMC Concord to a high of 97 percent for the 2-door Nissan Sentra. This paper investigates these differences in safety performance and reports those vehicle design parameters that are key to thoracic side impact protection. From the available data, the study concludes that the design parameter most crucial to occupant protection in side impacts is the Door Effective Padding Thickness (DEPTH).
Technical Paper

Results of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's Thoracic Side Impact Protection Research Program

An extensive research program to evaluate the feasibility of improved side impact protection has been conducted by the National Highway Traffic Administration. This program concentrated on the potential reduction in thoracic injuries to vehicle occupants in side impact. Test conditions, test procedures, and test hardware for evaluating thoracic side impact protection were defined, developed, and evaluated. Injury mitigation concepts which included vehicle structural modifications and the addition of padding to the inner door surface were developed and evaluated. Test results support the feasibility of providing significant improvements in thoracic side impact protection. In addition, side impact tests were conducted on ten production automobiles. Results from these tests indicated a relatively low injury potential for occupants in some vehicles and a very high injury potential for occupants in other vehicles.
Technical Paper

Crashworthiness Tests on Two Electric Vehicles

Crashworthiness aspects of two electric vehicles were evaluated in a modest test program. One vehicle was subjected to low-speed pendulum and barrier tests and static rollover. A second vehicle was subjected to a dynamic rollover using the procedure specified in FMVSS 208. Potential safety problems were exposed, and are addressed in the paper.