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Vehicle Safety


The Office of Vehicle Safety Research and supports U.S. DOT’s and NHTSA’s safety goals by conducting research and safety testing of motor vehicles and motor vehicle equipment. 

NHTSA’s recently published vehicle safety reports are listed chronologically below.

96 Results

Draft Research Test Procedure Performability Assessment for Five ADAS Variants

This report summarizes an evaluation of five NHTSA draft research test procedures designed to evaluate the test track performance of light vehicles equipped with advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): active park assist (APA), intersection safety assist (ISA), blind spot intervention (BSI), traffic jam assist (TJA), and opposing traffic safety assist (OTSA).

Evaluation of Foam Specifications for the Proposed FMVSS No. 213 Test Bench

This report documents the development of the recommended test procedures and specifications for the seat cushion foam to be used on the proposed upgraded FMVSS No. 213 frontal sled buck assembly, in support of the recently issued notice of proposed rulemaking.  Two sets of specifications are recommended: procurement specifications on which NHTSA (or its contracted test labs) could rely on during the procurement process, and test specifications to which NHTSA contract laboratories must certify the foams used in FMVSS No. 213 testing. This report also includes procedures for storing and testing the foam specimens for certification.

An Applied Review of Simulation Validation Approaches on a Vehicle Dynamics Model

This report presents an approach to vehicle dynamics modeling and validation of a class 6 single-unit truck, with pneumatic brakes. The model was developed using dSPACE Automotive Simulation Models for heavy vehicles with a hardware-in-the-loop pneumatic brake test bench. The report discusses vehicle model validation techniques and applies methodologies found in literature including subjective and objective approaches. This report finds the error quantification method through the use of empirical cumulative distribution methods that estimate the probability of the error between simulation and test track data to have the potential to facilitate thresholds for model acceptance. The goal is to assess vehicle dynamics simulation fidelity with probabilistic metrics within a certain error tolerance.

Evaluation of Seat Foams for the FMVSS No. 213 Test Bench

Child restraint systems sold in the United States must meet performance requirements specified in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213, which includes a sled test simulating a 30 mph frontal impact.  The design of the original FMVSS No. 213 test bench was based on a 1974 Chevrolet Impala bench seat. NHTSA updated some features of the bench seat in 2003 (68 FR 37620) to better represent vehicle seats of that time. As part of NHTSA’s periodic regulatory review, NHTSA once again evaluated whether the current FMVSS No. 213 test bench, including the seat foam, needs further modification to represent the rear seats of recent model passenger cars. This report describes the identification and testing of foam samples representative of more recent model year vehicles.

Failure Modes and Effects Analysis for Wireless and Extreme Fast Charging

This report focuses on the assessment and failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) of various concept architectures as static charger, and extreme fast charger for high-power wireless and wired EV charging systems.  A better understanding of the nature of these newer charging systems can help with better management of new risks they may introduce for people or the vehicle when the charging system is in use. In addition, future vehicles may be charged while the vehicle is in use either at stationary points along the road (stop sign, bus stop, traffic light) or even charged while in motion.

Motorcoach Safety Research – Interior Impacts and Compartmentalization

In response to the MAP-21 Reauthorization Act of 2012 and research of crashworthiness features of motorcoaches, NHTSA initiated research of  occupant protection in motorcoaches. This report describes technologies that may enhance that protection from two perspectives – interior head impact protection from padding and the compartmentalization safety concept from enhanced seat designs. To evaluate head injury in a crash, free-motion headform impact tests were performed on motorcoach seats and to the interior surfaces of motorcoaches. The results showed that the seats and bus interiors can produce high head injury criterion (HIC) responses. Padding types could reduce baseline HIC values by 50 to 85 percent. Sled tests conducted on seats with lap-shoulder belts showed that test dummies were contained in their seating compartment during the impact and rebound phases for every test condition, and all seat attachments remained intact.  A comparison of dummy kinematics between the physical sled tests and computer simulations showed very good agreement.

Li-Ion Battery Pack Immersion Exploratory Investigation

This report describes research assessing immersion of an electrified vehicle’s Li-ion battery pack in saltwater and brackish water, a relatively infrequent but not-unheard-of occurrence. Understanding safety implications of battery immersion helps stakeholders including manufacturers, first and second responders, and the general public. As more electrified vehicles begin to see use on-road, more electrified vehicles would be expected to be involved in large-scale flooding events. Therefore, it is worthwhile to investigate the procedures to be used as well as the response of recent Li-ion batteries under these conditions. Seven batteries were tested for immersion as well as post-immersion smoking or fire.

Intersection Safety Assist Draft Test Procedure Performability Validation

The report summarizes the use of three preliminary ISA test scenarios, discusses the results from testing one light vehicle equipped with ISA, and provides general assessments of the scenarios used.  Results of this report were used to define the specifications for NHTSA’s ISA draft research test procedure.

Investigation of Crash Consequences for Common Child Restraint Misuse

This study used dynamic sled testing to evaluate the effect of common child restraint system (CRS) misuse modes and common combinations of misuse on ATD excursion, kinematics, and injury response measures. The research shows that a rear-facing installation is more resistant to user error. In addition, convertible child restraints should be sold with lower anchors and tethers for children (LATCH) belt routed through the rear-facing belt path. The study provides strong evidence for prioritizing tight restraint installation and proper tether use for forward-facing restraints. The data also has implications for the benefits of new child restraint features. This information can be used to define and provide simpler and more effective messages about child restraint misuse to consumers.

Measuring Steering Column Motion in Frontal Rigid-Barrier Test

FMVSS No. 204, Steering control rearward displacement, specifies a limit on rearward steering column motion in an unoccupied, 30-mph full-frontal rigid-barrier crash test. The standard applies to passenger cars, trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with GVWRs of 4,536 kg or less or an unloaded weight of 2,495 kg or less. In responding to a request for comment regarding rules and other agency actions that are good candidates for repeal, replacement, suspension, or modification, the Association of Global Automakers asked whether FMVSS No. 204 continues to provide safety benefits beyond the safety protection provided by FMVSS No. 208, Occupant crash protection, which specifies performance criteria for the driver anthropomorphic test device (ATD) in a 35-mph full-frontal rigid-barrier test. The motion of the steering column in the FMVSS No. 204 test is different from the FMVSS No. 208 test due the interaction with the driver ATD and higher impact velocity in the 35-mph impact. Consequently, NHTSA defined this research task to develop and validate a test procedure to measure dynamic steering column motion during a FMVSS No. 208 frontal rigid-barrier test; and determine if the performance of the steering column motion in a FMVSS No. 208 type test can predict steering column motion in a FMVSS No. 204 test.