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Research & Data

Crash Avoidance

The advent of advanced electronic, computer, and communication technologies provides an opportunity for seeking new remedies that can help drivers avoid crashes. The Crash Avoidance and Electronic Controls Research Program is seeking to develop a broad base of understanding that can lead to introduction of advanced crash avoidance systems.

The focus of NHTSA's research on advanced technologies is to evaluate potential benefits of new and existing in-vehicle technologies. This research supports Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and safety defects investigations, advances knowledge about driver behavior, and assists in the development of new vehicle technologies. The advanced technologies that are the subject of NHTSA's research program can be grouped into two categories: vehicle-based systems, such as radar-based collision warning systems; and cooperative vehicle safety systems that use vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.

Heavy vehicles include trucks and buses with a Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW) rating of 10,000 pounds or more.  These vehicles represent a significant safety challenge for NHTSA, the commercial vehicle industry, and for our Nation.  4,000 fatalities and over 400,000 police-reported crashes involving heavy vehicles occur each year.

  • Vehicle to Vehicle Communications (V2V)
  • Active Braking Technologies
  • Collision Warning Systems
  • Heavy Truck Research



  • Estimation of Safety Benefits for Heavy-Vehicle Crash Warning Applications Based on Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications (DOT HS 812 429) November 2017
    This report presents a general methodology to estimate the crash avoidance effectiveness of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) safety applications forheavy vehicles and project their potential annual safety benefits. The report also describes the application of this methodology and the resultsfor three selected crash warning applications: intersection movement assist, forward crash warning, and blind spot/lane change crash warning.The safety benefits are projected in terms of annual reductions in the number and comprehensive cost of police-reported crashes that involved multiple vehicles, including at least one heavy vehicle. The methodology relies on target baseline crash populations obtained from the 2011-2013 General Estimates System crash database; driver/vehicle/application performance data from a National Advanced Driving Simulator study; naturalistic driving data from the Integrated Vehicle-Based Safety System field operational test; and on the Safety Impact Methodology tool that simulates the basic kinematics of driving conflicts and driver/vehicle response. In applying this methodology, it is assumed that all heavy vehicles are equipped with the three selected V2V safety applications and that all other motor vehicle body types (e.g., passenger cars,motorcycles, etc.) are equipped with V2V vehicle awareness devices that transmit basic safety information to heavy vehicles.
  • Commercial Connected Vehicle Test Procedure Development and Test Results - Emergency Electronic Brake Light (DOT HS 812 327)
    This report documents NHTSA’s test track research performed to support development of objective test procedures to evaluate the blind spot warning/lane change warning (BSW/LCW) safety application of commercial vehicles with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) equipment. The prototype V2V equipment was observed to be capable of tracking potential BSW/LCW threats, but occasionally the equipment would not recognize that a vehicle was in the V2V equipment determined blind spot warning zone due to the equipment’s error in estimating the lateral range between the vehicles. The V2V equipment determined blind zone was different for each side of the vehicle evaluated in this study (shorter on right side). When the turn signals were activated, the blind zone was extended by a time based on the closing speed of the approaching vehicle. The BSW/LCW test procedures are generally well developed but the blind zone definition for commercial vehicles/tractor-trailers combinations needs to be further refined.
  • Commercial Connected Vehicle Test Procedure Development and Test Results – Forward Collision Warning (DOT HS 812 298) August 2016
    This report documents NHTSA’s test track research performed to support development of objective test procedures to evaluate the forward collision warning (FCW) safety application of commercial vehicles with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) equipment. The prototype V2V equipment was observed to be capable of tracking potential FCW threats, but had some issues when vehicles were in a curve or when switching lanes. For the curve tests, the V2V equipment had trouble determining the lateral distance between the host vehicle (HV – test subject) and the remote vehicle (RV – collision threat) for certain scenarios. Future testing with commercial vehicles equipped with V2V technology will be required to fully develop some of the FCW objective test track procedures and performance metrics.
  • Summary of NHTSA Heavy Vehicle Vehicle-to-Vehicle Safety Communications Research, DOT HS 812 300  July 2016
    This report summarizes NHTSA’s V2V research on heavy vehicles (trucks and buses over 10,000 pounds). Most of the research conducted under the light vehicle V2V research program is directly applicable to applications in heavy vehicles, including the foundational elements such as 5.9 GHz Dedicated Short Range Communications and the supporting security credential management system that enables trust for V2V Basic Safety Messages. Heavy-vehicle V2V systems have been prototyped and tested in controlled scenarios in track testing and driver clinics as well as in a real world environment in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Testing these heavy-vehicle V2V systems included class 8 tractors in an integrated configuration, retrofit safety devices designed to facilitate installation of V2V capability in existing trucks, and retrofitted local transit buses. Additional research is exploring V2V systems in single-unit trucks and areas such as cyber security.
  • Commercial Connected Vehicle Test Procedure Development and Test Results – Intersection Movement Assist (DOT HS 812 276) May 2016
    This report documents NHTSA’s test track research performed to support development of objective test procedures to evaluate the intersection movement assist (IMA) safety application of commercial vehicles with vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) equipment. The prototype V2V equipment was observed to track potential IMA threats, but the IMA warnings and alerts issued from the V2V equipment on the trucks occurred very early. Due to the early warnings it was not possible to fully evaluate some of the test procedures. Future testing with commercial vehicles equipped with V2V technology will be required to fully develop the IMA objective test track procedures and performance metrics.
  • Evaluation of Heavy-Vehicle Crash Warning Interfaces (DOT HS 812 191) September 2015.
    This report evaluates heavy-vehicle collision warning interfaces as they pertain to auditory and visual components of forward collision warning systems. The results indicate that drivers receiving imminent collision warning alerts responded significantly quicker than drivers who did not receive alerts to potential rear-end events. Effects of muting other sources of in-cab audio were explored. Participants performed as well or even better when the other audio sources were not muted as long as the alerts were loud enough (15 dBA above in-cab noise level). If a visual component is part of the alert in the instrument panel, data suggests that it may be more effective if presented as an information component, not as the main alert component. This will assist drivers to look at the forward roadway as their first reactions instead of getting drawn to the visual component first. Data also suggests the auditory component should be the main alerting component in order to elicit the drivers looking to the forward roadway as their first reactions. This result was found to be true in both a truck-trailer combination units and motor coaches. It should be noted that haptic alerts were not considered in this study.
  • Commercial Medium- and Heavy-Duty Truck Fuel Efficiency Technology Cost Study, (DOT HS 812 177), 2015
    This report accompanies the work performed by Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in collaboration with NHTSA on fuel efficiency and emissions reduction technologies. Technologies are evaluated for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles for model years 2019 and beyond. Based on a list of technologies and configurations, this report examines the costs of implementation (in constant 2011 U.S. dollars) in the areas of incremental retail prices and lifecycle cost elements. Incremental retail prices are evaluated relative to the prices of the specific baseline technologies that would otherwise be used in the vehicles if the fuel efficiency and emissions reduction technologies were not implemented. They account for all costs associated with the manufacturers and suppliers’ production and sale of the technologies to the retail purchaser. The life cycle cost element examines the costs of using the technologies during the vehicles’ lifetimes and are intended to inform separate, full-scale, life-cycle analysis.
  • NHTSA’s 2014 Automatic Emergency Braking Test Track Evaluations, (DOT HS 812 166), 2014
    NHTSA’s 2014 light vehicle automatic emergency braking (AEB) test program evaluated the ability of a 2014 Acura MDX, a 2014 BMW i3, a 2015 Hyundai Genesis, and a 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee to be tested with the agency’s August 2014 draft crash-imminent braking (CIB) and dynamic brake support (DBS) test procedures. The maneuvers were successfully validated and the performance of the vehicles compared to a common set of draft assessment reference values (ARVs). None of the vehicles discussed in this report were able to satisfy all CIB ARVs if their performance was considered against a “seven of eight” evaluation criteria, and only the Jeep Grand Cherokee was able to satisfy the DBS ARVs during at least seven of eight trials for each test condition.
  • Tractor Semitrailer Stability Objective Performance Test Research - Yaw Stability, DOT HS 811 734, May 2013
  • Class 8 Mack Straight Truck Emulating a Refuse Hauler –Braking Improvement Study, DOT HS 811 747  May 2013
  • Test Track Lateral Stability Performance of Motor coaches Equipped with Electronic Stability Control Systems,  DOT HS 811 633, April 2013
  • Tractor Semi-Trailer Stability Objective Performance Test Research - Roll Stability DOT HS 811 467, May 2011
  • Study of Heavy Truck S-Cam, Enhanced S-Cam, and Air Disc Brake Models Using NADS  DOT HS 811 367, October 2010  
  • Tire Pressure Monitoring System Tests For Medium and Heavy Trucks and Buses DOT HS 811 314, June 2010 
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Class 8 Tractor/Trailer Safety Outriggers DOT HS 811 289, April 2010
  • Class 8 Truck Tractor Braking Performance Improvement Study: Low Coefficient of Friction Performance and Stability Plus Parking Brake Evaluations of Four Foundation Brake Configuration DOT HS 809 753
  • Class 8 Truck Tractor Braking Performance Improvement Study, Report 1, Straight Line Stopping Performance on a High Coefficient of Friction Surface DOT HS 809 700 [PDF, 2.6MB]

Increased use of electronic controls and connectivity is enhancing transportation safety and efficiency. These new technologies may result in new failure mechanisms and cyber vulnerability that are emerging challenges for auto safety. NHTSA recognized these new challenges by adding electronic systems safety as a new area of vehicle safety research.”

Electronic Systems Safety Research

The role of human factors research is to provide an understanding of how drivers perform as a system component in the safe operation of vehicles. NHTSA recognizes that driver performance is influenced by many environmental, psychological, and vehicle design factors

The focus of the research is to determine which aspects of vehicle design should be modified to improve driver performance and reduce unsafe behaviors. An additional focus is to evaluate driver's capabilities to benefit from existing or new in-vehicle technologies.

The research supports Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards, safety defects investigations, consumer information, and advancement of knowledge about driver behaviors and performance that can be applied to development of vehicle technologies that are compatible with driver capabilities and limitations. Explore Human Factors in depth

Automotive Cybersecurity

Additional Resources

Cybersecurity, within the context of road vehicles, is the protection of automotive electronic systems, communication networks, control algorithms, software, users, and underlying data from malicious attacks, damage, unauthorized access, or manipulation.