The AASHTO Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) requires full-scale crash testing of roadside features using worst practical impact conditions, which should be representative of the composition of vehicles involved in run-off-road crashes and of the roadside departure speeds and angles. Previous NCHRP projects have driven changes in standard test conditions and test vehicles. In the mid-2000s, MASH was introduced and updated the criteria for selecting passenger car and pickup truck standards. Also, a mid-size test vehicle was introduced. After exploratory crash-testing programs for each of these changes in test vehicle selection criteria, a narrow number of selected makes and models were informally adopted as the “preferred” test vehicle types, offering economical and reproducible outcomes.
Recently, NCHRP Project 20-07, Task 372, “Evaluation of MASH Test Vehicles,” indicated a significant decline in new passenger car sales and a rise in new light truck sales since 2014, driven primarily by “compact” or “crossover” utility vehicle (CUV) sales. Hence, updates for the selection criteria used for standardized passenger car and light truck test vehicles were recommended, as was an exploratory full-scale testing program to evaluate roadside hardware using the CUV class of test vehicle. A pilot testing program evaluating existing, MASH-approved hardware using the new proposed vehicles, with emphasis on the CUV vehicle class, is needed to ensure that testing criteria remains representative of the “practical worst-case” impact conditions.
The objectives of this research effort would be to (a) conduct a series of full-scale crash tests of MASH-approved, non-proprietary roadside safety hardware using test vehicles consistent with recommendations provided in NCHRP Project 20-07 Task 372; (b) compare results of the full-scale crash testing using the new proposed vehicles with correlated MASH full-scale crash testing results; and (c) identify preferred vehicles and recommend the configurations, trim levels, or sizes needed for developing new vehicle models using finite element analysis (FEA) methods.
The outcome of this research would be (a) guidelines for selecting preferred standardized vehicles for the light truck, small car, and mid-size vehicle classes, as a basis for recommending updates to MASH evaluation criteria and (b) selection of characteristics of the preferred mid-size test vehicle. This research would provide the first indications of the likelihood that existing, successfully-tested hardware will continue to be perform acceptably with the updated test vehicles. Also, the research would identify recommended vehicles to be developed into FEA models in future studies which could augment evaluation of hardware using the updated vehicles.