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Technical Paper

Fatal and Severe Injuries in Rear Impact; Seat Stiffness in Recent Field Accident Data

A decade ago, James, published a detailed study of the available NASS data on severe rear impacts, with findings that “… stiffened or rigid seat backs will not substantially mitigate severe and fatal injuries in rear impacts.” No field accident study has since been advanced which refutes this finding. Advocates of rigidized seat backs often point to specific cases of severe rear impacts in which MAIS 4+ injuries are associated with seat back deformation, coupled with arguments supporting stiffer seatback designs. These arguments are generally based upon laboratory experiments with dummies in normal seating positions. Recent field accident data shows that generally, in collisions where the majority of societal harm is created, yielding seats continue to provide benefits, including those associated with whiplash associated disorders (WAD).
Technical Paper

Load Path Considerations for Side Crash Compatibility

Heavier, larger pickups and SUVs are bound to encounter lighter, smaller passenger vehicles in many future accidents. As the fleet has evolved to include more and more SUVs, their frontal structures are often indistinguishable from pickup fronts. Improvements in geometric compatibility features are crucial to further injury prevention progress in side impact. In corner crashes where modern bullet passenger car (PC) bumpers make appropriate geometrical overlap with target PC rocker panels, concentrated loads sometimes disrupt foam and plastic bumper corners, creating aggressive edges. In situations where sliding occurs along the structural interface, these sharp edges may slice through doors, panels and pillars. End treatments for such bumper beams should be designed to reduce this aggressive potential.
Technical Paper

Derivation of Vehicle-to-Vehicle Frontal Crash Pulse Estimates from Barrier Crash Data

The BSAN crash pulse model has been shown to provide useful information for restraint sensing evaluation and for structural force-displacement studies in flat fixed rigid barrier (FFRB) crashes. This paper demonstrates a procedure by which the model may be extended for use with central and offset vehicle to vehicle (VTV) crashes through appropriate combinations of vehicle parameters.
Journal Article

Rollover Dynamics: An Exploration of the Fundamentals

Research focusing on automotive rollovers has garnered a great deal of attention in recent years. Substantial effort has been directed toward the evaluation of rollover resistance. Issues related to crashworthiness, such as roof strength and restraint performance, have also received a great deal of attention. Much less research effort has been directed toward a more detailed study of the rollover dynamics from point-of-trip to point-of-rest. The reconstruction of rollover crashes often requires a thorough examination of the events taking place between point-of-trip and point-of-rest. Increasing demands are placed on reconstructionists to provide greater levels of detail regarding the roll sequence. Examples include, but are not limited to, roll rates at the quarter-roll level, CG trajectory (horizontal and vertical), roll angle at impact, and ground contact velocity. Often the detail that can be provided in a rollover reconstruction is limited by a lack of physical evidence.
Journal Article

Rollover Crash Tests on Dirt: An Examination of Rollover Dynamics

Most rollover literature is statistical in nature, focuses on reconstructed field data and experiences, or utilizes a very broad pool of dissimilar test data. When test data is presented, nearly all of it involves hard surface rollover tests performed at speeds near 30 mph, with a mix of passenger cars, sport utility vehicles and minivans. Five full-scale dolly rollover tests on dirt of production sport utility vehicles (SUV) and multi-purpose vehicles (MPV) were performed with similar input parameters. The similarities included Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 208 rollover dolly initiated events, level dirt rollover surfaces, and initiation speeds over 40 mph. All tests were recorded with multiple high-speed and real-time cameras. Additionally, some of the tests included detailed documentation of the rollover surface and the resulting evidence and debris patterns, as well as onboard angular rate sensing instrumentation.
Journal Article

Measurement and Modeling of Rollover Airborne Trajectories

Much has been written about reconstruction techniques and testing methods concerning vehicle rollovers. To date, most of the literature describes rollovers as one-dimensional events. Rollovers account for a disproportionate fraction of serious injuries and fatalities among all motor vehicle accidents. The three-dimensional nature of rollover sequences in which a rolling vehicle experiences multiple ground contacts contributes to the environment where such injuries occur. An analytical technique is developed to model the airborne segments of a rollover sequence as a parabolic path of the vehicle center of gravity. A formulation for the center of gravity descent from maximum elevation to full ground contact is developed. This formulation contains variables that may be readily determined from a thorough reconstruction. Ultimately, this formulation will also provide a vertical ground impact velocity at contact.
Technical Paper


Occupant simulation models have been used to study trends or specific design changes in “typical” accident modes such as frontal, side, rear, and rollover. This paper explores the usage of the Articulated Total Body Program (ATB) as an accident reconstruction tool. The importance of model validation is discussed. Specific areas of concern such as the contact model, force-deflection data, occupant parameters, restraint system models, head/neck loadings, padding, and intrusion are discussed in the context of accident reconstruction.
Technical Paper

Improvements to the SMAC Program

The Simulation Model of Automobile Collisions (SMAC) computer program has seen more than a decade of use under NHTSA auspices. Although SMAC has proven itself to be a useful investigative tool, the program has several shortcomings which either have been addressed by the authors or need to be addressed by further work. This paper presents the results of our ongoing work to improve SMAC and our recommendations for further work. Those model features discussed herein which either have been or need to be revised consist of (1) the calculation of crush forces when penetration is deep (2) the representation of the vehicles' crush pressure vs deflection relationship and (3) the distribution of tire normal forces in reaction to pitch and roll. An input interfacing program called SMACED has been written and is discribed. This editing program greatly simplifies the use of SMAC and will be found particularly useful for the inexperienced or infrequent SMAC user.
Technical Paper

Design, Development and Testing of a Load-Sensing Crash Dummy Face

This project covers one facet of a program to develop a mechanical model for characterizing the time history of local forces on the zygomatic, maxillary and mandible regions of the human face during a frontal collision. Two mechanical devices to measure the forces on crash dummies during testing were designed, constructed and tested. The devices employed cantilever beams equipped with strain gauges. Both devices were subjected to a series of drop tests onto various materials. Time histories were compared to those obtained from cadaver experiments. While the data obtained from this testing appears to be similar to the cadaver data, further improvements and modifications will make the model much more useful.
Technical Paper

Determination and Mechanisms of Motor Vehicle Structural Restitution from Crash Test Data

The coefficient of restitution is an indicator of the elasticity of a collision. Restitution, or elastic rebound of a deformed surface, contributes to the change in velocity of collision partners, a common measure of injury severity in automobile collisions. Because of the complex nature of collisions between motor vehicles, the characterization of the expected magnitude of the coefficient in such collisions lacks detail and mechanisms influencing its value are not well understood. Using crash test data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this study investigates the expected magnitude of the coefficient of restitution and mechanisms influencing restitution in automobile collisions. Both vehicle-to-barrier and vehicle-to-vehicle tests are considered for all types of collisions. The influence of a variety of collision and vehicle parameters on restitution is also explored.
Technical Paper

A Perspective on Automobile Crash Fires

The relatively rare occurrence of injury or fatality in fuel-fed fires has received considerable attention in automotive safety rulemaking and products liability litigation. The literature related to fatalities associated with fire is confirmed by recent FARS data, and there are no reliable field data which confirm a need for further injury-reducing effect related to FMVSS 301. NHTSA has acknowledged this by removing crash fire rulemaking from its priorities plan. The police-reported crash fire data now available must be supplemented with in-depth investigation by trained teams before informed judgements can be made regarding further safety improvements with respect to crash fire injury.
Technical Paper

The VTS Single-Vehicle Trajectory Simulation

A vehicle trajectory simulation called VTS has been developed as an aid for reconstruction of automobile accidents. The two dimensional vehicle has longitudinal, lateral and yaw degrees of freedom, a point mass at the center of gravity) yaw inertia about the center of gravity and four contact points (“tires”) which can be arbitrarily positioned. No collision or aerodynamic forces are modeled. The traction surface is represented as a flat plane with a specified nominal friction coefficient. Several quadrilateral “patches” may be applied to the surface to change the friction coefficient in specific regions. User vehicle control consists of timewise tables for steering angle and traction coefficient for each of the four wheels. When used individually or in conjunction with other computer modules, VTS provides a convenient, accurate modular tool for trajectory simulation.
Technical Paper

Facial Impact Response — A Comparison of the Hybrid III Dummy and Human Cadaver

Results indicate the need for a redesigned Hybrid III face capable of accurate force and acceleration measurements. New instrumentation and methods for facial fracture detection were developed, including the application of acoustic emissions. Force/ deflection information for the human cadaver head and the Hybrid III ATD were generated for the frontal, zygomatic, and maxillary regions.
Technical Paper

Crash Protection in Near-Side Impact - Advantages of a Supplemental Inflatable Restraint

Collision Safety Engineering, Inc. (CSE), has developed a test prototype system to protect occupants during lateral impacts. It is an inflatable system that offers the potential of improved protection from thoracic, abdominal and pelvic injury by moving an impact pad into the occupant early in the crash. Further, it shows promise for head and neck protection by deployment of a headbag that covers the major target areas of B-pillar, window space, and roofrail before head impact. Preliminary static and full-scale crash tests suggest the possibility of injury reduction in many real-world crashes, although much development work remains before the production viability of this concept can be established. A description of the system and its preliminary testing is preceded by an overview of side impact injury and comments on the recent NHTSA Rule Making notices dealing with side-impact injury.
Technical Paper

Crush Energy in Accident Reconstruction

Vehicle accident reconstruction methods based on deformation energy are argued to be an increasingly valuable tool to the accident reconstructionist, provided reliable data, reasonable analysis techniques, and sound engineering judgement accompany their use. The evolution of the CRASH model of vehicle structural response and its corresponding stiffness coefficients are reviewed. It is concluded that the deformation energy for an accident vehicle can be estimated using the CRASH model provided that test data specific to the accident vehicle is utilized. Published stiffness coefficients for vehicle size categories are generally not appropriate. For the purpose of estimating vehicle deformation energy, a straight-forward methodology is presented which consists of applying the results of staged crash tests. The process of translating crush profiles to estimates of vehicle deformation energies and velocities is also discussed.
Technical Paper

A Repeated-Crash Test Technique for Assessment of Structural Impact Behavior

An economical alternative technique is presented for obtaining vehicle frontal crush characteristics from a series of repeated low speed barrier crashes. Results were analyzed using a technique of linear correlation of residual crush depth with a defined crush energy parameter. The data compared closely with crashes reported in the literature, and suggested that the structure exhibits only a slight strain rate sensitivity. Crush energy is shown to correlate well with dynamic crush depth. Relations among dynamic and residual crush and recovery distance are reported, Velocity restitution is shown to be about constant at 15% over the impact velocity range employed. A force-deflection relation based on the offset force linear harmonic oscillator theory is suggested, shown to agree quite well with data. Repeated crash testing can be an effective method to obtain information needed for development of analytical and predictive tools useful in design and reconstruction.
Technical Paper

A Load Sensing Face Form for Automotive Collision Crash Dummy Instrumentation

This paper summarizes the development of an Instrumented faceform which can record time histories of impact-related pressures at fifty-two locations over the entire face of a Hybrid 2 crash dummy skull. Pressures are measured by using piezo-electric, thin-plastic films; a high-speed, multiplex data acquisition system; signal conditioning; a software-controlled computerized data reduction and recording scheme; and a submergence calibration technique. The construction of the modified dummy face and the calibration gear are discussed. Examples of preliminary laboratory impact test results are presented. Theory and techniques relating to signal processing software, microprocessor controlled random-access-memory data-retrieval system and system calibration are also discussed. It is hoped that this tool, now undergoing final development and verification testing, will find extensive use in the evaluation and safety-related design of vehicle interiors and occupant restraints.
Technical Paper

Improved Utilization of Nitromethane as an Internal Combustion Engine Fuel

Single-cylinder engine tests, with computerized data aquisition, of several nitroparaffin and methanol fuel blends were conducted to identify engine operating conditions or fuel compositions which reduced combustion knock with no penalty to engine power. The effect of variation in equivalence ratio, nitromethane percentage in selected co-solvents, ignition timing and compression ratio was investigated at fixed engine speed and steady-state temperatures. Electronic filters were used to isolate the portion of the cylinder pressure signal containing combustion knock and a Fast Fourier Transform computer subroutine was used to characterize combustion severity in the frequency domain. The results verified the empirical racing engine practice that for a nitromethane/methanol mixture operating fuel-rich from stoichiometric, power is increased and knock is decreased.
Technical Paper

The Assessment of the Societal Benefit of Side Impact Protection

This paper summarizes work relating to the assessment of societal benefits of side impact protection. National Crash Severity Study (NCSS) and National Accident Sampling System (NASS) accident data technigues were reviewed with respect to the reliability of output information concerning the distribution of side impact accidents by impact severity and relationships between injury and impact severity. NCSS and NASS are confounded by errors and inadequacies, primarily as a result of improper accident reconstruction based upon the CRASH computer program. Based on review of several sample cases, it is believed that the NCSS/NASS files underestimate Lower severities and overestimate higher severities in side impact, with delta-V errors probably overestimated by 25-30 percent in the case of the more serious accidents. These errors cannot be properly quantified except on a case-by-case basis. They introduce unknown biases into NCSS/NASS.
Technical Paper

Application of Kinematic Concepts to Side Impact Injury Analysis

An understanding of fundamental kinematic relationships among the several deforming surfaces of side-impacting bullet and target vehicle, occupant protection system and occupant is fundamental to rational design of crash injury counter-measures. Unfortunately, such understanding is not easy to achieve. Side impacts address the full range of bodily contacts and injuries in a way that challenges analysis. Each bodily area and organ requires individual consideration for adequate injury protection. This paper presents a simplified graphical analysis of occupant kinematics and injury exposure applied specifically to the NHTSA-proposed crabbed moving deformable barrier (MDB) compartment impact, as described in NHTSA's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) 214, issued in January of 1988 [NHTSA 1988 (1)*]. Projections are offered regarding the potential of thoracic injury counter-measures.