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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.

103 Results

Enhanced Seat Belt Reminder Systems: An Observational Study Examining the Relationship With Seat Belt Use

Reducing motor vehicle crashes and injuries remain a priority for the highway safety community. Over 90 percent of drivers and front passengers use seat belts but about half of crash-related fatally injured occupants were unbelted. Motor vehicle manufacturers install seat belt reminder systems in compliance with FMVSS No. 208. The systems vary in audible sounds, instrument panel icons, text messages, intensity, and duration. Some exceed FMVSS No. 208 requirements and are recognized as enhanced seat belt reminder (ESBR) systems. This project examined effectiveness of various ESBR systems in promoting seat belt use among drivers and right-front seat passengers. Data collectors observed drivers and right-front seat passengers in 69,984 vehicles in 8 States and recorded age, gender, and belt use, vehicle type, and license plate number. State DMVs were able to provide data on 61,074 vehicles. Results showed a beneficial effect of combinations of sound, icon, and text elements; of extended periods of warning systems; and of systems compliant with European New Car Assessment Programme standards. The effectiveness of the presence and magnitude of specific ESBR systems are dependent upon whether the State has a primary seat belt use law.

Classification of Level 2 Driving Automation Events Observed on Public Roads – Part 2

This report summarizes data collected while operating two passenger vehicles equipped with SAE level 2 driving automation systems on public roadways using three pre-established test routes.  Driver-annotated videos were used to document system operation during a variety of traffic scenarios.  Three classification types were used to categorize events (notable driving situations) observed during the drives.

Assessing the Feasibility of Adding Additional Actors to Intersection Safety Assist Draft Test Scenarios

This report summarizes how variants of two test scenarios and three sub-scenarios, defined in NHTSA’s intersection safety assist draft research test procedure, assessed the feasibility of increasing the number of actors (e.g., other vehicles) in each driving situation. Better understanding the factors associated with such additions is of interest to NHTSA, as the expanded capability may improve its ability to research new or more complex real-world driving situations on the test track. Addition of another actor to the ISA scenarios increased the complexity of the tests, however not to the extent where it always and significantly affected overall burden. All test tolerances used to assess trial validity were satisfied for five of the six tests conditions described in this report.

Assessing the Feasibility of Adding Additional Actors to Traffic Jam Assist Test Scenarios

This report summarizes how two traffic jam assist test scenarios were used to assess the feasibility of increasing the number of vehicles (actors) used for performance evaluations; a capability that may help NHTSA research new and/or more complex real-world driving situations on the test track. Generally speaking, the work described in this report indicates the incorporation of additional actors is possible, although some testing elements require further refinement, such as configuration settings used by the robotic controllers.

Automated Driving Systems’ Communication of Intent With Shared Road Users

The three studies in this project explored shared road user need for information about Automated Driving System (ADS) vehicle intent and developed procedures to evaluate external human/machine interface concepts communicating intent of ADS vehicles. In Study 1 driving instructors determined visual and auditory cues most important for predicting the actions of drivers.  In Study 2 drivers, pedestrians, and bicyclists travelled on public roadways while verbally commenting about the actions of nearby vehicles. In Study 3 participants watched videos of an approaching vehicle with various evaluating external human/machine interface concepts superimposed. Results suggest shared road users seek out and use key pieces of information from vehicles. The results could inform human factors guidance regarding communication of intent for automated driving systems.

Active Park Assist Draft Test Procedure Validation

The 13 test scenarios described in NHTSA’s June 2019 draft research active park assist (APA) test procedure were used to evaluate the system performance of three passenger cars: a 2017 BMW 540i, a 2017 Tesla Model S 90D, and a 2018 Cadillac CT6. This report discusses the test results and provides a general assessment of the scenarios used. The June 2019 version of this draft test procedure is an update to that originally published in April 2018. The test scenarios were intended to emulate commonly encountered perpendicular and parallel parking scenarios. Two scenarios evaluated how the subject vehicle performed back-in parking maneuvers. Three scenarios tested the vehicle response to a pedestrian encroaching into the parking space while the vehicle performed the parking maneuver. Two scenarios examined the vehicle’s response to a following vehicle that stops and obstructs the path when it began to perform the parking maneuver. Finally, 6 scenarios were designed to see how the test vehicle reacts to the driver performing a manual override of the steering, accelerator pedal, or brake pedal inputs during the parking maneuver.

Methods Used to Develop a Model for Crash and Injury Projections for 2020-2030

This report describes in detail the design and implementation of a projection model developed at NHTSA’s Vehicle Research and Test Center that will be used to identify future crash, occupant, and injury issues remaining. The most urgent issues in crash safety research have typically been identified with retrospective, real-world crash data. However, this report describes methods for projecting future crashes using retrospective data from NASS CDS, NASS GES, and FARS, along with the best forecasts of population and transportation trends, and estimates of the effects of current and planned safety countermeasures.

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.