The purpose and scope of this SAE Recommended Practice is to provide a basis for classification of the extent of vehicle deformation caused by vehicle accidents on the highway. It is necessary to classify collision contact deformation (as opposed to induced deformation) so that the accident deformation may be segregated into rather narrow limits. Studies of collision deformation can then be performed on one or many data banks with assurance that the data under study are of essentially the same type.1
The seven-character code is also an expression useful to persons engaged in automobile safety, to describe appropriately a field-damaged vehicle with conciseness in their oral and written communications. Although this classification system was established primarily for use by professional teams investigating accidents in depth, other groups may also find it useful.
The classification system consists of seven characters, three numeric, and four alphameric, arranged in a specific order. The characters describe the deformation detail concerning the direction, location, size of the area, and extent which, combined together, form a descriptive composite of the vehicle damage. The individual character positions are referred to by column number for identification and computer storage compatibility as illustrated in Figure 1. The definition of each classification is provided in subsequent sections. An Appendix is also provided to assist in application and interpretation.