February 25, 2003

Engineers question crash test standards

Warrendale, Pennsylvania – Fixed-barrier frontal crash tests, such as those used by the U.S. and Canadian federal governments and an insurance industry- sponsored organization, may need to be re-evaluated because they could be making large and small vehicles less compatible in crashes, say a pair of automotive engineers.

In a technical paper to be presented during the SAE 2003 World Congress (March 3 – 6, Cobo Center, Detroit, Michigan, USA) authors Mukul Verma, Principle Engineer, Robert Lange, Executive Director of Safety Structure and Integration and Joseph Lavelle, Senior Engineer of General Motors assert that fixed-barrier tests (in which a vehicle is crashed into a stationary object such as a wall) have led to larger vehicles with stiffer, or stronger, front ends with higher force levels. While these vehicles score higher on the tests, the tests themselves may have the unintended effect of widening the disparity between large and small vehicles.

“In researching the subject, we considered various vehicle characteristics and the potential to address the balance of self- and partner-protection in a fleet of large and small vehicles,” said Lange. As one of the influencing factors, they examined the effects of certain vehicle level test conditions on vehicle structure and collision compatibility. The authors suggest these test procedures could be revisited to perhaps bring more real- world relevance to the tests and to improve collision compatibility.

“GM is currently participating in an industry-wide effort to address collisions between smaller and larger vehicles, including light truck-based vehicles,” Lange said. “One group is studying frontal collisions and another is focusing on side impacts. The groups are expected to issue recommendations before summer.”

Presentation of “Relationship of Crash Test Procedures to Vehicle Compatibility” (SAE paper 2003-01-0900), will take place Wednesday, March 5 at 1:00 p.m. in room W2-67 at Cobo Center.

The SAE World Congress, the world’s largest showcase of automotive engineering technologies, attracts attendees from more than 40 countries. SAE is a non-profit engineering and scientific organization dedicated to the advancement of mobility technology to better serve humanity.

Connect with Autos.ca