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Vehicle Safety

Resources

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.



114 Results
Title
 

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.

Hydrogen Container Performance Testing

This report describes research to evaluate the life cycle durability testing requirements for high pressure hydrogen containers set forth in the Global Technical Regulation (GTR) No. 13 for hydrogen and fuel cell vehicles. NHTSA is considering adopting the GTR requirements into a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard.  However, the GTR lacks detail and contains inconsistencies that can only be resolved through development and evaluation of laboratory test procedures. NHTSA contracted Powertech Labs, which is equipped to conduct the specialized hydrogen container assembly testing required in the GTR, to develop detailed test procedures and generate test data to confirm the feasibility of conducting the proposed test sequences. These tests consist of a series of hydraulic and pneumatic pressure cycling and flaw tolerance tests meant to simulate a 15-year service life.  Hydrogen containers from three manufacturers were subjected to the tests.  Setup diagrams, equipment, procedures, instrumentation, results, and observations were documented.

Firewall Design in Buses to Mitigate the Propagation of Engine Fires

This report evaluates designs of the partition (firewall) between the engine compartment and the passenger compartment in current motorcoaches, medium-size buses, and school buses. Research examined the ability of the firewalls to mitigate the propagation of fire originating in the engine compartment into the passenger compartment, the effect of openings or gaps in firewall designs on ability to mitigate fire propagation, of the firewall under a frontal impact crash for front-engine compartments or rear impact for buses with rear engines, improvements to firewall designs for mitigating propagation of engine fires into the passenger compartment, and practical considerations and design constraints for improved firewalls to mitigate propagation of engine compartment fires into the passenger compartment.

Foundations of Automotive Software

This report chronicles the history as well as the current state-of-the-art practices of software development within the automotive sector.  Key concepts, approaches, trends, and knowledge of automotive software development were collected to benchmark industry practices as well as to compare these to non-automotive industry sectors.  The report provides a conceptual framework and taxonomy to articulate the relationships among relevant factors driving the evolution of automotive software development, which can be updated to incorporate new classifications and/or sub-classifications as the automotive software development landscape evolves.

Testing of Unattended Child Reminder Systems

NHTSA tested aftermarket, prototype, and original equipment manufacturer (OEM) unattended child reminder systems available for purchase or testing in the summer of 2020.  Generalized functional assessment methodologies to document the systems’ capabilities were developed.  The study assessed nine new systems and technologies introduced since the previous study was conducted in 2015. Results showed that each system met own design criteria, alerting the caregivers when vehicles were turned off with children still inside. OEM systems met criteria and alerted the caregivers with a display or audio alert as designed. However, the rear-door logic systems as currently implemented will not ensure that all occupants are out of the vehicle at the end of the trip. The systems performed differently in addressing some real-world situations encountered in the Special Crash Investigations case reviews of pediatric vehicular heatstroke fatalities in 2019.

Propagation Mitigation Testing Procedures, Modeling, and Analysis

This report explores propagation mitigation in packs of lithium ion pouch cells commonly used in large electric vehicles. Abuse tests were then used to initiate failure within a single cell in either the sub-assembly or pack. It developed a numerical model to capture damage propagation in lithium ion cells and modules in which thermal runaway is triggered using different initiation methods. The interplay of three parameters for passive thermal management on thermal runaway mitigation was numerically studied, including thermal mass of metallic inserts, thermal contact resistance between components, and cooling rate. Based on these results, it found that connecting metallic inserts between cells instead of using separate metallic inserts between cells is more helpful for thermal runaway mitigation since the former can take advantage of total thermal mass of metallic inserts, while the latter only of the thermal mass of individual metallic inserts next to the damaged cell.

Event Data Recorder Duration Study Appendix to a Report to Congress

The EDR duration study was initiated in August 2016 and conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech over a 9-month period.  The research examined existing NHTSA crash investigation programs and naturalistic driving studies to provide bounds on the recording durations necessary to capture available driver inputs preceding a crash. This is the appendix for the report: Results of Event Data Recorders Pre-Crash Duration Study: A Report to Congress.

Results of Event Data Recorders Pre-Crash Duration Study: A Report to Congress

The EDR duration study was initiated in August 2016 and conducted by researchers at Virginia Tech over a 9-month period.  The research examined existing NHTSA crash investigation programs and naturalistic driving studies to provide bounds on the recording durations necessary to capture available driver inputs preceding a crash. This report provides the detailed results from that effort. It is accompanied by its appendix: Event Data Recorder Duration Study Appendix to a Report to Congress.

Comparison of the aPLI, FlexPLI With Upper Body Mass, and FlexPLI Pedestrian Legforms in Matched-Pair Vehicle Tests

Pedestrian knee ligament injuries and lower leg fractures are the most frequent and among the most debilitating long-term injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Global Technical Regulation No. 9, Pedestrian Safety, has been adopted by the international community to mitigate these pedestrian injuries through improved vehicle bumper systems. The current UN GTR includes the flexible pedestrian legform impactor (FlexPLI), which simulates the lower limb of a pedestrian and is the device widely used in global New Car Assessment Programs to assess the protection level of the front-end structures of vehicles. This study evaluated the upper body part addition to the FlexPLI (FlexPLI-UBM) and the advanced pedestrian legform impactor (aPLI) and compare vehicle test results with one another and with the current FlexPLI in matched impacts.