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.

64 Results
Safety Management of Automotive Rechargeable Energy Storage Systems: The Application of Functional Safety Principles to Generic Rechargeable Energy Storage Systems

This report documents two NHTSA approaches evaluating hazards associated with automotive rechargeable energy storage systems (RESS).  It consists of four parts: (1) evaluating hazards with functional safety and associated security levels of automotive RESS controls; (2) analyzing and assessing safety-related RESS control diagnostics, event data loggers, and prognostics; (3) identifying safety-critical information and communicating it to operators, first and second responders, and service technicians; and (4) addressing safety-related instructions and training needs.

Examination of a Prototype Camera Monitor System For Light Vehicle Outside Mirror Replacement

This report describes examination of a prototype side camera monitor system (CMS) used in lieu of outside rearview mirrors on light vehicles to learn about the technology and related issues as NHTSA considers whether to revise FMVSS No. 111 to permit such technologies as alternative compliance.  A 2016 Audi A4 with a prototype CMS was used for a 4-week test in daylight and dark, stationary and dynamic, and dry and rainy conditions using portions of existing FMVSS No. 111 “Rear Visibility” and existing and pending European standards for camera monitor systems. This work provided information about this technology to inform NHTSA how to respond to petitions from the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, Tesla, and Daimler Trucks North America, requesting that FMVSS No. 111 be revised to permit technologies other than mirrors.

Cybersecurity Research Considerations for Heavy Vehicles

The intent of this research is to investigate cybersecurity aspects of medium-duty/heavy-duty (MD/HD) trucks (classes 1 to 8) and compare those aspects to passenger vehicles. Information collected had a significant bias towards HD vehicles (class 7/8), as opposed to MD vehicles.

Field Study of Light-Vehicle Crash Avoidance Systems: Automatic Emergency Braking and Dynamic Brake Support

The telematics-based, data collection from General Motors’ OnStar system has strengths for evaluating safety systems, cost, sample size, long-term effects, data efficiency, and rapid-turnaround of large-scale results for examining rare events such as automatic braking, near-crash or crash events. This type of telematics-based data collection is also helps understand impacts of safety systems that are rapidly emerging globally. This field study report uses high-priority data addressing driver assistance actions and corresponding driving behavior associated with production crash avoidance-equipped passenger vehicles and focuses on automatic emergency braking (AEB) and dynamic brake support (DBS) systems offered by GM as “Front Automatic Braking” (FAB) and “Intelligent Brake Assist” (IBA), respectively. These systems are jointly referred to as the Collision Preparation System (CPS). Data was captured on 1,021 production vehicles (all MY 2015 Cadillacs) equipped with FAB and IBA from consenting vehicle owners over a 1-year period; the vehicles involved operated in 46 of 50 States.

Functional Safety Assessment of a Generic Accelerator Control System With Electronic Throttle Control in Diesel-Fueled Vehicles

This report describes research to derive safety requirements related to the failures and countermeasures of the accelerator control system with electronic faults such as electronic throttle control (ACS/ETC) signals, following an industry process standard specifically in vehicles with diesel engines. This study follows the Concept Phase process in ISO)26262 and applies hazard and operability study, functional FMEA, and STPA methods. It identifies five safety goals and 204 ACS/ETC system safety requirements as well as potential opportunities to improve the risk assessment approach in ISO 26262.

Performance Assessment of Prototype Seat Belt Misuse Detection System

Seat belt interlock systems are effective in increasing seat belt use in light vehicles. A seat belt interlock system determines if a vehicle occupant is not wearing the seat belt properly and, if seat belt misuse is detected, takes some action to limit the operation of the vehicle.  In 2016 NHTSA funded a project to develop a prototype system that could accomplish the seat belt misuse detection function of a seat belt interlock system. This report describes the testing of the resultant prototype seat belt misuse detection system to assess its performance in detecting improper seat belt use and summarizes the results.

Radar Congestion Study

As greater numbers of vehicles equipped with radar-enabled crash avoidance systems are on the road, the potential for mutual radar interference that affects their performance is increasing. This study describes the environment automotive radars operate in, especially as systems with greater autonomy enter the market.  Systems that operate well in environments without other radars may suffer significant degradation of performance in radar-congested environments. This researchs provide an understanding of the levels of interference expected under different scenarios, allowing identification of situations that could benefit from mitigation of radio frequency interference (RFI).  Many techniques mitigate RFI, and several are discussed. Some mitigation strategies rely on standards practiced by all transmitters in the environment. This study identifies candidate scenarios that may further benefit from RFI mitigation, and which mitigation strategies involve harmonization.

Development of Fit Envelopes To Promote Compatibility Among Vehicles and Child Restraint Systems

This project developed “fit envelope” spaces occupied by small, medium, and large rear-facing and forward-facing child restraints that can be used as tools for promoting compatibility between vehicles and child restraints. Thirty-one child restraints representing a range of sizes, manufacturers, and product types were scanned and installed in vehicles and measured in 10 late-model vehicles. Comparison of installed positions was done virtually using Hypermesh. To promote compatibility from the vehicle side, at least one rear-facing and one forward-facing envelope should be able to be installed in each vehicle rear seating position. Four sets of nesting boxes were built. For child restraint evaluation, the largest rear-facing and forward-facing envelope geometry can be modified with foam inserts to represent the medium and smaller sizes. For vehicle evaluation, a wooden base is installed in the vehicle using flexible LATCH belts. Different components are added to represent the small, medium, and large sizes. Test procedures have been drafted to describe setup of vehicles, child restraints, and the evaluation process.

A Framework for Automated Driving System Testable Cases and Scenarios

This report describes a framework for establishing sample preliminary tests for automated driving systems, focusing on light-duty vehicles with higher levels of automation, where the system is required to perform the full dynamic driving task, including lateral and longitudinal control, as well as object and event detection and response.

It took the first steps of partitioning the ADS performance space as a test framework of independent factors, and mapped forward refining the testing framework through methods of modeling, simulation, track testing, and open road testing. Outcomes included identifying tactical maneuver/competency behaviors from various sources; identifying the ADS operational design domains; and developing evaluation.

Functional Safety Assessment Of a Generic Electric Power Steering System With Active Steering and Four-Wheel Steering Features

This report describes the research effort to assess the functional safety of electric power steering (EPS) systems. This study also considers the additional active steering and four-wheel steering features, which are incorporated into some EPS systems.