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Crashworthiness focuses on occupant protection to reduce the number of fatal and serious injuries that occur in the United States each year. This research program is responsible for developing and upgrading test procedures for evaluating motor vehicle safety. Crashworthiness research encompasses new and improved vehicle design, safety countermeasures and equipment to enhance occupant safety.
Small Overlap / Oblique Crashes

Studies show that fatalities still happen with vehicles equipped with safety belts and airbags in both small overlap and oblique crashes. Small overlap crashes are crashes with all the damage outside the main longitudinal member. Oblique crashes engage one of the main longitudinal member and cause the occupant to move in an oblique manner. Therefore, the agency is trying to develop test procedure to reduce fatalities and injuries in these two crash modes.

Small Overlap / Oblique Program
Heavy Trucks

Heavy Truck safety is focused on occupant safety and underride guards.  Heavy truck occupant safety examines the causes of fatality and injury for heavy truck occupants, while truck underride research identifies the characteristics of underride events and contributing factors.

Truck Underride
Truck Occupant Safety
Alternative Energy

Ensuring that alternative fuel vehicles attain a level of safety comparable to that of other vehicles requires extensive research, due to the many advanced and unique technologies that have previously not been tested in the transportation environment.

Alternative Energy Research
Aggressivity and Fleet Compatibility

The purpose of this research program is to investigate the problems of vehicle aggressivity and compatibility in multi-vehicle crashes. The near-term goal is to identify and demonstrate the extent of the problem of incompatible vehicles in vehicle-to-vehicle collisions.

Vehicle Aggressivity and Fleet Compatibility Research

The goal of the Agency's continuing research is to understand the vehicle and occupant kinematics pursuant to rollover initiation. Further, pre-crash elements might serve as important input parameters for the rollover crash reconstruction models.

Rollover Research
School Bus

Due to regulations requiring compartmentalization on large school buses, American students are safer riding in a school bus than they are riding in a car. NHTSA is committed to ensuring the safety of our Nation's children in school buses.

School Bus Crashworthiness Research
Occupant Restraint Systems

Occupant restraint systems are intended to control occupant motion within the vehicle during the crash. Occupant restraint system technologies (e.g. air bags, seat belts, seats, etc.) are continually advancing and are a major contributor to mitigating crash fatalities and injuries. However, a significant number of crash injuries still occur, and efforts are ongoing to further improve restraint effectiveness. Occupant restraint system development continues to evolve as new regulations and consumer demand drive more complex solutions.

Advanced Air Bag Technology Research
Air Bag Aggressivity Study
Side Airbag Out-of-Position Technical Working Group Public Meeting
Frontal Crash Protection

Frontal crashes are a major source of injuries and fatalities in the field. Recent research utilizes new ATDs to evaluate occupant protection in NCAP’s frontal impact crash test. These efforts study occupant response, possible implications for smaller occupants, and restraint effectiveness for a rear seat passenger.

Determination of Frontal Offset Test Conditions Based on Crash Data
Alternative Approaches to Occupant Response
Child Safety

Studies and reports provide an overview of the progress of child safety in the United States. This provides a summary of NHTSA's activities in promoting child safety, summarizes the agency's regulatory actions, and discusses issues regarding obstacles in the wide-spread use of booster seats.

Child Safety Research

U.S. Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
1-800-424-9153 (TTY)