The National Academies

NCHRP 22-06 [Completed]

Roadside Safety Design for Small Vehicles

  Project Data
Funds: $350,000
Research Agency: Texas A & M Research Foundation
Principal Investigator: Dr. Hayes E. Ross, Jr.
Effective Date: 6/1/1985
Completion Date: 5/31/1988

Most current roadside safety appurtenances were designed and tested with passenger vehicles ranging from 4,500 down to 2,250 lb. Spurred by Federal regulation and consumer demand, auto manufacturers have reduced the weight and size of passenger vehicle models and are developing even smaller models. Consumers are purchasing the smaller sized models in increasing numbers, and the trend is expected to continue. Currently, several vehicle models in the 1,800-lb range are being marketed in the United States and passenger vehicles of 1,500 lb or less are currently in production overseas with distribution in the United States anticipated. Research is needed to investigate the performance of hardware and roadside features with vehicles in the 1,800-lb range. Under some conditions, barrier impacts become increasingly hazardous for smaller vehicles; however, little is known about the performance of current hardware and roadside safety features with vehicles smaller than 1,800 lb.

The objectives of this project were (1) to assess the performance of selected existing highway safety appurtenances and roadside features with passenger vehicles below 1,800 lb and (2) to project the limits of vehicle characteristics that can be safely accommodated through improvements in current hardware and roadside features. This project involved (1) review of information on the performance of safety appurtenances and roadside features with passenger vehicles weighing 1,800 lb and less, (2) identification of all types of 4-wheel sedans below 1,800 lb that may constitute a significant portion of the vehicle fleet, in the United States within the next 10 years, (3) selection of critical hardware and features to be tested, (4) computer simulation of crashes involving selected hardware and features, (5) full-scale crash tests, (6) additional crash simulation with recalibrated models, and (7) identification of design modifications to hardware and roadside features to improve performance for vehicles at the low end of the weight spectrum.

Status: Research has been completed and the project report has been published as NCHRP Report 318, "Roadside Safety Design for Small Vehicles."

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