Crashtest.com: Introduction to Auto Safety & Crash Testing

2cvcrashtstCrashtest.com is a website that I just found which has a plethora of information regarding auto safety and crash testing.  Below is a copy of their intro, complete with links.  I would suggest that you also go to their website, crashtest.com for further exploration and/or if the right margin of this posting is cut off and prevents you from reading everything here.

Introduction to Auto Safety & Crash-testing

Road traffic accidents kill more than one million people a year, injuring another thirty-eight million (5 million of them seriously).  The death toll on the world’s roadways makes driving the number one cause of death and injury for young people ages 15 to 44. 

How safe is that new or used vehicle you’re thinking of purchasing? With the introduction of airbags and crash-testing, the number of people killed and injured by motor vehicles has decreased in many countries.  International NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) ratings provide a useful basis for comparing vehicle safety.  Let’s see what international safety information is currently available.


In the United States – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) provides safety information for a large number of vehicles through their New Car Assessment Program (US-NCAP), using an outdated crash-testing procedure and featuring only vehicles built after 1994.  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) does its own testing for the insurance industry, but data is only available for a few late-model vehicles. 

In Europe – the FIA crashtests Europe’s most popular models for the European NCAP, but tests only a small number of vehicles each year.  Pedestrians and bicyclists are much more vulnerable than vehicle occupants when a crash occurs. The European NCAP’s pedestrian evaluation tests the most hazardous areas of each model.  Currently, no legislation exists that forces a manufacturer to comply with the EuroNCAP pedestrian guidelines, so we have not included them in our ratings.   

Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport magazine sponsors crash-tests of a small number of European cars but permits only subscribers to access the information.

In Australia – the NRMA tests vehicles for the Australian NCAP (ANCAP) and has recently adopted the Euro-NCAP testing procedures (they formerly used  NHTSA test procedures). 

In Japan – the National Organization for Automotive Safety & Victims’ Aid (OSA) sponsors Japanese NCAP tests (full-frontal, frontal offset, and side impact) on the most popular Japanese home-market vehicles.

For the first time ever, all international crash-test results are available from one source.  Crashtest.com makes it easy for people around the world to examine the safety of any motor vehicle they’re interested in, whether new or used.  Our simple rating system make it easy to interpret the confusing tests and results found on other sites.  We include insurance information detailing how safe your next vehicle purchase may be in real-world situations.  Most new and used cars, trucks, vans, and sports utility vehicles (SUVs) have been rated.  Using our compare feature, models from two different manufacturers can be viewed at the same time to see how their safety statistics measure up to one another. 


Overall Ratings – Crashtest.com evaluates all the available data on a specific vehicle and assigns it 1 of 5 possible performance ratings.  The overall rating is not simply an average of the other scores, because certain categories count more from a safety point of view.

The most significant safety determinant, worth as much as all the others put together, is Weight.  It is so important that it would overwhelm all other factors if included in the assessment, so we do not include it in our overall rating.  However we strongly recommend that you note BOTH of the last 2 rating categories Weight and Overall, when you consider the ultimate crashworthiness of a particular model. 

Overall Ratings Based On Safety

Excellent Safety – Highly Recommended
Good Safety – Recommended
Acceptable But Better Choices Exist – Not Recommended
Marginal Safety – Unacceptable
Poor Safety – Unacceptable
 

Weight Class Categories

3500 lbs / 1590 kgs or more
3000-3499 lbs / 1363-1589 kgs
2600-2999 lbs / 1181-1362 kgs
2300-2599 lbs / 1045-1180 kgs
Less than 2300 lbs / 1045 kgs

(If a data table square is blank, the data is either unavailable, the vehicle has yet to be tested, or the vehicle will never be tested.)

Crashtest.com does not endorse any particular vehicle type, make or model, however we suggest that you only consider vehicles that have achieved a good or excellent overall rating, that weigh at least 3000 lbs / 1363 kgs or more.


Full-width frontal impact crash test – NHTSA and OSA currently use this procedure for their full-width frontal impact collisions.  The Euro NCAP and Australian NCAP used this test until 1997, when they adopted the more realistic Frontal Offset Crash Test (see below), already used by the IIHS in the US.  Dummies are seated in the driver’s and front passenger seat.  The vehicle crashes head-on into a rigid concrete barrier at 35 mph  (56 km/h).  Afterwards, researchers measure and evaluate the impact on the dummies’ head, chest, and legs.  This test provides very high deceleration forces to the test dummies and is particularly well  suited to the evaluation of occupant restraint systems such as seat belts and air bags.  Of note, however, the damage done to the vehicle itself is not assessed.

Frontal offset crash test – In the frontal offset impact test (used by Euro-NCAP, IIHS, and OSA), a vehicle is aligned with a rigid barrier with a deformable aluminum face so that 40% of the width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver’s side (10% offset from the centerline – hence offset test).  Dummies are seated in the driver’s and front passenger seat (driver’s seat only in the IIHS tests), and the vehicle runs into the barrier at 64 km/h (40 mph), in order to measure and evaluate the impact on the dummies’ head, chest, and legs – as well as to check the condition of the deformed vehicle. This test represents the forces involved in a typical head-on collision of two vehicles weighing the same that are travelling at 64 km/h (40 mph).   Because a smaller portion of the vehicle’s structure sustains the force, the impact on the dummy is weaker than in a full frontal impact.  However there is greater vehicle body deformation, making it suitable for the evaluation of potential injury caused by intrusion to a vehicle’s occupants.

Side impact crash test – In most international side-impact tests, a stationary vehicle with dummies in the driver’s and front passenger seat is rammed by a 950 kg (2090 lb) moving trolley with a crushable aluminum face, going 50 km/h (30 mph), directly centered on the driver’s seating postition. 

The NHTSA test differs from the others in that it’s conducted with the trolley’s wheels turned 27 degrees to the right, so that the force of the impact comes from a point 63 degrees from the centerline of the test vehicle (although the trolley is facing perpendicular [90 degrees] to the centerline). As with frontal impact testing, the side impact test is conducted at five mph above the federal standard, which means the deformable barrier hits the car at 38 mph (61km/h).


Head Restraints – The IIHS then determines if the front-seat head restraints can be positioned behind and close enough to the back of the head to limit relative head and torso movement in rear-end collisions. A restraint needs to be as high as the head’s center of gravity, or 3.5 inches from the top. The distance from the head restraint to the back of the head should be less than 4 inches. Certain models offer different seating options so doublecheck the IIHS ratings if you have optional seating.

The IIHS website provides a comprehensive list of head restraint ratings for North American vehicles.  Since over 70% of the vehicles they tested got failing marks, we have decided NOT to include the ratings in our results.  However a link is provided on each page that will take you to the IIHS head restraint ratings for each manufacturer (click on the manufacturer’s name under the ratings key).  Suffice it to say, an overwhelming majority of the highest rated head restraint systems were only available on vehicles manufactured in Europe. 


A Warning – According to the World Health Organization, road traffic accidents kill more than one million people a year, injuring another thirty-eight million (5 million of them seriously).  Automobiles must take the majority of the blame for this tranportation apocalypse, but bicycles, buses, motorcycles, and trucks all share some of the responsiblity.  The death toll on the world’s roadways makes driving the number one cause of death and injury for young people ages 15 to 44. 

With the introduction of airbags and crash-testing, the number of people killed and injured by motor vehicles decreases every year in most of the world’s richest nations.  Unfortunately the numbers are steadily increasing in the Third World.  Automobiles must take the majority of the blame for this tranportation apocalypse, but bicycles, buses, motorcycles, and trucks all share some of the responsiblity. 

The vast majority (88%) of road traffic injuries and fatalities already occur in the world’s poorest countries (see chart).  WHO and World Bank reports predict an oncoming transportation apocalypse.  Deaths from road traffic injuries are expected to rise by over 75% in the next 20 years. 

Burdgeoning economies will help to increase the the numbers of registered vehicles in the world’s emerging nations.  Unfortunately for them, more cars will mean more injuries and death.  Third World countries would surely benefit from mandatory airbag and structural safety regulations which have proved incredibly beneficial in Europe and the United States.  Unfortunately motor vehicle safety is usually a low or non-existant priority in low-income countries.  Vehicle manufacturers must take the initiative in providing safety systems as standard equipment on all motor vehicles sold in the Third World.

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