The Traffic Accident Reconstruction Origin -Article-

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The Office of Crashworthiness Research (OCR) a branch of NHTSA has an incredible new site for persons wishing to research the crashworthiness of motor vehicles. It can be accessed at:

The OCR Databases' Query Screens are divided into three categories. The startup page provides links to screens that allow for Query on either Test, Vehicle or Barrier table parameters from the database. Information in the database refers to the performance and response of vehicles and other structures in impacts. Examples of vehicle tests are those done as part of the new car assessment program (NCAP), and lateral vehicle-to-vehicle impacts.

The Test information includes definitions of data elements identifying the test (type, configuration, date, performing contractor) as well as some elements that identify test conditions (closing speed or impact angle).


The Vehicle information contains information about the vehicle being tested (make, model, year, engine type) as well as data gathered during testing (travel angle, vehicle damage index, bumper engagement).

The Barrier table query returns Test and other tables' information, where a fixed object that doesn't move (such as a bridge rail, a flat angled barrier, etc.) is involved.

At the bottom of the startup page you will find three links. You simply click on the one you wish to access

Below is an example of the information found on a query using the Vehicle Database, which most Collision Reconstructionists will be interested in. Simply select the Vehicle Make, the Vehicle Model and the Model Year from what year to what year, ie (1976 to 1984).

You will get in return information (Note: U.S. users should have a conversion calculator as the information here is in metric) on :

Test No., Vehicle No., Vehicle Make, Vehicle Model, Year, Engine Type, Engine Displacement (liters), Vehicle Test Weight (Kgs), Vehicle Length (mm), Vehicle Width (mm), Max. Crush Distance (mm), Contract or Study Title, Test Performer, Test Reference No., Test Type, Test Configuration, Closing Speed (km/h), Impact Angle (degrees), Offset Distance (mm), Barrier Information, Instrumentation Information, Occupant Information.

 As an example there were 128 crash tests done on VW Rabbits from 1976 to 1984 involving vehicle to vehicle crashes, barrier to vehicle crashes and vehicle to barrier crashes. Crash angles included 0, 60,180, 270 and 300 degrees. Test speeds were from 24.3 km/h (15 MPH) to 73.71 km/h (45.8 MPH). Contributors included Calspan, Dynamics Science and NTS California.



Users should be aware that the OCR Database is updated on the weekends and may be shut down at that time. You should also be aware that during peak activity periods access may be slow.

There is a plethora of information here and it's all free. Time to get surfing.

 J.F. (Jim) Mitchell
ACTAR #84 Barrie, Ontario

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