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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.

123 Results

Head-Up Displays and Distraction Potential

Head-up displays (HUDs) present opportunities and challenges for mitigating driver distraction.  HUDs may improve safety by reducing the time required to view driving-related information relative to a traditional head-down displays (HDDs).  However, because the HUD is in the driver’s field of view, drivers may fixate on it or fail to perceive events in the environment. This study investigated driver use of a HUD, an HDD, and an aftermarket display by measuring visual behavior during public road driving.

Adaptive Driving Beam Headlighting Systems Rulemaking Support Testing

This report describes testing and analysis conducted to support resolution of NPRM comments about a compliance test procedure for adaptive driving beam (ADB) headlighting systems. NHTSA’s 2018 NPRM proposed to allow ADB on light vehicles in the United States and described a compliance test procedure based on full-vehicle in dynamic test scenarios performed on a test track. Testing involving NHTSA’s proposed ADB test procedure and SAE’s Surface Vehicle Recommended Practice J3069, Adaptive Driving Beam, provided data supporting resolution of test procedure related comments.. Dynamic illuminance measurements validated test procedure results for light source types; vehicle lower beam headlamp performance against ADB glare limit criteria; and whether ADB-equipped vehicles respond similarly when tested using the modified NHTSA test fixture versus a FMVSS-compliant vehicle. It was determined that a full-vehicle, dynamic performance test for ADB headlighting systems was suitable for FMVSS use and effective in determining whether an ADB headlighting system limits glare to other motorists to specified criteria.

Development of an Automated Wheelchair Tiedown Restraint System for Automated Vehicles

This report describes a project to develop an automated wheelchair tiedown and occupant restraint systems (WTORS) that could be safely and independently used in automated vehicles by people who remain seated in their wheelchairs for travel. The literature review focuses on topics relevant to safe, independent use of automated vehicles to people who use wheelchairs. Other chapters discuss initial strategies on design space, prototype concepts, computational modeling, volunteer assessment, dynamic testing, validating frontal and side impact wheelchair models, optimization of WTORS restraint systems, hardware development for the wheelchair attachments, vehicle anchorages, and automated belt donning arm, considerations for implementing usable wheelchair seating stations, hardware evaluation by eight volunteer wheelchair users, evaluation of prototypes in ten frontal and eight far-side impacts, and remaining challenges.

THOR-50M Repeatability And Reproducibility of Qualification Tests

This report documents NHTSA’s evaluation of the repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) of the 50th percentile Test Device for Human Occupant Restraint (THOR-50M) dummy in qualification tests. Repeatability (similarity of test responses from a single dummy when subjected to repeats of a given test condition) and reproducibility (similarity of test responses from several dummies when subjected to repeats of a given test condition) of the THOR-50M were evaluated by calculating the coefficient of variation values for each qualification test using several different dummies and test labs. With few exceptions, the results didn’t require a thorough review of the test procedures or necessitate the need for complete dummy inspections. Therefore, the THOR-50M R&R was deemed sufficient for use as a test tool for evaluating the safety of vehicles. Results obtained in a few tests identify areas for potential further investigation or provide opportunities to create future dummy enhancements.

Rear-Seat Frontal Crash Protection Research With Application to Vehicles With Automated Driving Systems, Volume 1

This report is part of the overall FMVSS Considerations for Automated Driving Systems project and stemmed out of the potential considerations from the Volume 2 report that noted that “ADS-DV developments may be changing the role of the rear seat to be more like that of the front seat, affecting FMVSS No. 208 in particular.”  The research in this report is a proactive examination of frontal-crash protection for rear-seat occupants.  The project focus is the assessment of a 50th percentile male in the second-row rear seat using anthropomorphic test devices and finite element models.

Crash Simulation of FMVSS No. 214 Safety Performance

This research used and developed detailed FE vehicle models to simulate FMVSS No. 214 static door crush, dynamic MDB, and VTP test conditions to compare intrusions, applied forces, and occupant metrics among baseline and modified vehicle simulations. The vehicle modifications were developed to meet or only partially meet FMVSS No. 214 static and dynamic test requirements.  The results were evaluated to consider the feasibility of using the dynamic performance measurements as a surrogate for the static test.

Integrated Seat Belt System Model Development

This research report documents the development of a finite element model representing a seat with integrated seat belts from a recent model passenger vehicle. Static tests evaluated seat deformation and potential failure mechanisms. Dynamic tests with appropriate anthropomorphic test dummies evaluated occupant kinematics and injury in high-severity front- and rear-impact crashes. All test data, along with seat tear down measurements and component testing, factored into the development and validation of the FE model. The data from these tests was used to validate the seat model.

Development of Test Procedures for Lower Interior Rear Seat Occupant Protection

NHTSA conducted research to develop test procedures and assessment criteria to address injuries from impacts with lower interior surfaces in the rear seat, focusing on head and face injuries due to contacts with seat backs, head restraints, and lower B-pillars.  To evaluate the head injury potential of production vehicles, vehicles were tested using a methodology based on the upper interior test procedure of FMVSS No. 201. Three targets were chosen on the seat back and one on the head restraint for each seat model. Elevated Head Injury Criterion (HIC) results from contact to these surfaces were found, as were feasible countermeasures. For lower B-pillars, a procedure was developed for a new impact location lower on the B-pillar toward the rear of the vehicle.  Elevated HIC results were found, as were feasible countermeasures.

Repeatability and Reproducibility Of the FMVSS No. 213 Side Impact Test

This report documents NHTSA’s evaluation of testing using the proposed FMVSS No. 213 child side impact procedures conducted on both acceleration and deceleration sleds. In January 2014 the NHTSA released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to amend FMVSS No. 213 to include a side impact test and additional performance requirements for child restraint systems. Since the NPRM was released, NHTSA has modified the sled-on-sled test buck to minimize variability in installation, be more durable, and better match the proposed frontal FMVSS No. 213 seat assembly. The modified FMVSS No. 213 side impact test was evaluated for repeatability and reproducibility at the two different laboratories in test setup, overall kinematics of the child restraints, and dummy responses.

FMVSS No. 213 Side Impact Test Evaluation and Revision

In 2014 NHTSA published a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) requiring all child restraint systems (CRSs) seating children up to 40 lb to provide protection in side impact crashes. The proposed sled test simulates rear seat environment of the two-vehicle side crash replicated by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 214, “Side impact protection,” moving deformable barrier test of a small passenger car. Since then additional research assessed comments and research questions presented in the NPRM. This report addresses the changes incorporated in the test buck and test methodology from those that were originally released with the NPRM.