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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.

86 Results

Occupant Response Evaluation in Flat, Full-Frontal Rigid Barrier Impact Testing

NHTSA has previously published research using the Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint 50th male (THOR-50M) anthropomorphic test device rigid barrier tests. NHTSA subsequently conducted six additional rigid barrier tests as part of a larger program to evaluate the use of a newer generation of test dummies in existing crash tests. Three additional rigid barrier tests were conducted with an updated seating procedure and after minor changes were made to the THOR-50M test dummies. This report extends the previous study to include the results from all 15 rigid barrier tests using a wider range of vehicle types. These tests also included a Hybrid III 5th percentile adult female (HIII-5F) ATD seated in the right front seat located in the mid track position. A second HIII-5F was seated in the right rear seat position.

Seat Belt Assembly Tensile Test Procedure Development

Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 209, Seat Belt Assemblies, specifies requirements, including performance requirements, for seat belt assemblies used in motor vehicles. The standard includes an assembly performance tensile test where seat belt assemblies must withstand a minimum tensile force and not exceed an elongation limit. NHTSA is evaluating potential changes to the test procedures, to better represent in-vehicle restraint angles. To support the tensile test procedure development, NHTSA’s Vehicle Research and Test Center collected in-vehicle measurements of seat belt assemblies with different occupant sizes and conducted tensile tests at the resulting representative angles. The seat belts were tested on fabricated fixtures using the original equipment manufacturer seat belt assemblies, including hardware and bolts. Out of 10 seat belt assemblies tested using the in-vehicle seat belt angles, four did not meet the performance requirements when tested using the procedure under evaluation. Additional testing was completed aiming to further develop the test procedure to determine if seat belt assemblies with load limiters can meet the force requirement in one test when using stroke-limited machines. All assemblies tested under the conditions of no webbing on the spool or minimal webbing on the spool reached the force requirement, although more steps were required to test with minimal webbing on the spool and the load limiters were not fully engaged. Overall, the updated test procedure was feasible and converted the in-vehicle geometry of the seat belt assembly into a more representative tensile test. The developed test procedures include a detailed method for collecting the in-vehicle angle measurements, incorporating all in-vehicle hardware, and fabricating unique fixtures to complete tensile tests with representative in-use angles.

Development of a Representative Seat Assembly for FMVSS No. 213

Manufacturers of child restraint systems sold in the United States must certify their systems meet performance specifications in Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 213. The sled test for FMVSS 213 was originally based on the configuration and performance parameters of the 1974 Chevrolet Impala production front bench seat. This report describes the upgrades to the standard seat assembly to be more representative of a current vehicle rear seat environment. The upgrades to the standard seat assembly included seat geometry, seat cushion characteristics, and anchorages locations. In addition it details the child restraint system fleet sled testing used to evaluate the upgraded seat assembly, which provided repeatable results in three test configurations.

Advanced Test Tools for ADAS and ADS

This document describes the current test tools and capabilities established at NHTSA’s Vehicle Research and Test Center for researching the safety performance of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and automated driving systems (ADS) in a closed-course setting. This paper focuses on immediate and future needs for ADAS and ADS closed-course testing and the requirements for basic operation, coordination, and a scalable system that can perform repeatable and reproducible tests that require precise control of multiple actors in a realistic driving scenario of relevance to the system of interest.

Performance of Energy Management Features of Child Restraint System LATCH Hardware

  This study described is a small-scale investigation of the performance of energy absorbing LATCH features offered on commercial child restraint system (CRS) products. Paired tests of CRS with and without the energy management features were used to determine the effects.  This preliminary study of the effect of currently available LATCH energy management features would suggest that their benefits are limited and that there is more room for improvement to reduce injury risk for children riding in CRS through improved CRS designs. The results also show that current FMVSS 213 test procedures would be sufficient for evaluating dynamic performance of energy management features.

Hazard Analysis of Concept Heavy Truck Platooning Systems

This study explores the potential safety implications of two heavy-truck platooning concepts. The findings summarized in this final report are intended to assist with identifying and assessing potential safety hazards and risks associated with concept heavy truck platooning systems. This study reviewed heavy truck platooning systems and concepts under development. After the market assessment, two “reference” (or prototypical) systems representing alternative platooning concepts were identified as a basis for hazards analysis. The study included creating a list of potential hazards, and then categorizing them according to their risks as specified by the ISO 26262 Road Vehicles – Functional Safety standard.  A safety of the intended function analysis was also performed guided by the ISO 21448 Road Vehicles – Safety of the Intended Functionality standard.  Finally, a fault tree analysis was performed on selected hazards identified in the hazards analysis.

Occupant Safety in Vehicles Equipped With Automated Driving Systems, Part 2: Crash Safety Considerations For Out-of-Position Occupant Posture in Vehicles With Automated Driving Systems - Field Data Investigation

This report is one of three related reports on occupant safety in vehicles equipped with automated driving systems (ADS), which promise to substantially reduce the frequency and severity of crashes. While there is optimism as to their ultimate safety benefit, there will likely be a transition period from human-driven to computer-driven vehicles that may bring new, and potentially in-creased, risks. Occupants of vehicles equipped with high- or fully automated driving systems will be free to read, converse, and sleep. Vehicle interiors will likely accommodate these activities by offering reclining and possibly rotating seats. These sitting postures and positions are now considered out-of-position (OOP) and are likely detrimental to the performance of occupant safety systems such a restraint belts and air bags. In order to investigate the risk of alternative/out-of-position postures, this study investigated OOP posture frequency and injury risk for the current vehicle fleet via literature review and database analyses.

Test Procedures with Countermeasure Timing Constraints for Intersection Movement and Left Turn Assist Safety Applications

This report describes test procedures with countermeasure timing constraints for intersection movement assist (IMA) and left turn assist (LTA) safety applications that warn drivers of imminent crashes at road junctions. These procedures are aimed to qualify the safety applications’ abilities to warn the driver of an imminent collision within the countermeasure timing constraints, while limiting the number of warnings that maybe considered a nuisance to the driver. The metrics are derived from naturalistic driving data and crash reconstructions.  These tests are limited to light vehicles (i.e., passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings of 10,000 pounds or less) under closed track and clear weather conditions.

Implementation of the Revised Safety Impact Methodology (SIM) Tool

The Safety Impact Methodology (SIM) software tool is a suite of simulation modules designed to assess the safety effectiveness of crash avoidance systems based on vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications and/or vehicle-based sensors such as radar. The output can be combined with external data on exposure and occupant injury to support analysis of overall harm reduction. The SIM tool uses an incremental time-step approach to model linear motion, turning movements, driver reactions, and warnings/actions from the crash avoidance system. It implements pre-crash scenarios addressed by V2V-based forward crash warning, intersection movement assist, left turn assist, blind spot/lane change warning, do not pass warning, and emergency electronic brake light safety applications. It also has the capability to simulate other priority pre-crash scenarios and applicable safely applications, such as drifting into opposite direction travel lanes. This report details the mathematical and computational basis for the SIM tool, including assumptions, theory of operation, kinematic equations, and detailed specifications of pre-crash scenarios.

Traffic Jam Assist Draft Test Procedure Performability Validation

The report summarizes the use of three traffic jam assist (TJA) test scenarios (revisions to those specified in NHTSA’s April 2018 draft research TJA test procedure), discusses the results from testing one commercially available vehicle equipped with TJA, and provides general assessments of the scenarios used.