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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.

80 Results
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 InvestigationThis 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 ApplicationsThis 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) ToolThe 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 ValidationThe 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.
Electric Vehicle GTR No. 20 Test Development, Validation, and AssessmentThis report provides draft test procedures for in-use requirements in the Global Technical Regulation (GTR) No. 20, “Electric vehicle safety,” including electrical shock protection, functional safety, and in-use safety of the high voltage propulsion battery in the electric vehicle.  The report also provides details of in-use testing on a 2019 Chevrolet Bolt.
Potential Alternative Methodology for Evaluating Flammability of Interior Automotive MaterialsThe objective of the research presented in the report is to improve the repeatability and reproducibility of evaluating the flammability of interior materials that are difficult to test according to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 302, “Flammability of materials,” (e.g., rigid non-planar materials, parts smaller than the FMVSS 302 specimen size).  This report describes the work plan tasks and final results of this research program.  The work plan tasks included conducting literature review, characterizing vehicle fires by analyzing various sources of field data, conducting bench-scale and intermediate-scale testing of motor vehicle materials and equipment, and developing a test method and performance metrics with improved repeatability for evaluating material flammability.  Additionally, the chemical composition and smoke toxicity of the materials tested was also evaluated.
Opposing Traffic Safety Assist Draft Test Procedure ValidationThe report summarizes the use of five preliminary opposing traffic safety assist (OTSA) test scenarios, discusses the results from testing one commercially available vehicle, a 2017 Mercedes-Benz E300, equipped with OTSA, and provides general assessments of the scenarios and test devices used during research.
An Approach for the Selection and Description of Elements Used to Define Driving Scenarios

This report reviews existing pre-crash scenario typologies and various proposed behavioral competencies in literature that may be relevant to automated driving systems (ADSs) and selects five example scenarios to facilitate exploration of elements that may be helpful in characterizing them. The selected scenarios were: rear-end scenario, lead vehicle lane change scenario, vulnerable road user scenario, crossing path scenario, and a merge scenario. From these five sample scenarios, scenario descriptions were created by first leveraging existing test track procedures when available and then modifying them such that they can be executed with ADSs. These scenario descriptions were broken down into five categories: initialization, environment, principal other vehicle, traffic, and subject vehicle status. For each one of these categories, the study targets identifying a preliminary list of elements necessary to describe the ground truth scenario information.

Occupant Dynamics During Crash Avoidance Maneuvers

A 12-participant test-track study in a sedan, a minivan, and a pickup assessed head excursions across vehicles using two abrupt braking events, two lane changes, and turn-and-brake maneuvers. Forward head excursion was slightly smaller in the passenger car than in the other two vehicles. No explanation for this finding was apparent; the vehicle kinematics were similar. A larger study with 90 participants was then conducted using a passenger sedan and an SUV with a range of age and body size assigned to blocks of initial conditions. Factors investigated were seat position, foot placement, seat back recline angle, retractor locking, vehicle differences, and effects of leaning inboard on the console armrest or leaning forward while reaching. All 90 experienced two braking events, a right-going lane change, a left-going lane change, and a turn-and-brake maneuver. Overall, results suggest a range of occupant head locations can be produced by abrupt vehicle maneuvers. More research is needed to assess the robustness of occupant protection systems to this wide range of postures.

Classification of Level 2 Vehicle Events Observed On Public Roads

This report summarizes the data collected while operating three vehicles equipped with SAE automation level 2 driver assistance systems. Using cameras, driver-annotated video was recorded to document the systems’ availability and noteworthy operation. Notable events were classified into three categories: events where the vehicle terminated its automation level 2 system operation and transferred full control back to the driver (Type I), driving situations where the system remained in operation but satisfied certain classification criteria (Type II), and driving situations where either the driver performed a manual override to disengage the system, or the system automatically reestablished lane position after an unintended departure had occurred (Type III).