NHTSA WILL CRASH TEST 70 MODEL YEAR 1998 VEHICLES
September 22, 1997
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, September 22, 1997
Contact: Tim Hurd
Tel. No. (202) 366-9550
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) today announced it will crash test 70 model year 1998 vehicles to provide consumers with information that they can use to help guide their new vehicle purchase decisions. The federal safety agency said it will crash test 48 passenger cars, 10 sport utility vehicles, 4 vans, and 8 pickups in its New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). Fifty vehicles will be crashed in the frontal direction and 20 passenger cars will be crashed from the side. Most of the vehicles that have been selected for testing in the frontal NCAP will be equipped with "depowered" driver and passenger air bags. Once the crash testing is completed, NHTSA estimates that frontal safety information can be provided to consumers on 70 percent of the model year 1998 vehicles sold in the USA. The agency will provide side impact safety information on about 72 percent of the passenger cars sold in the USA.
Vehicles are crashed so that the entire front goes into a fixed barrier at 35 mph. This crash is equivalent to a head-on collision between two identical vehicles, each moving at 35 mph, or with a 70 mph closing speed. Instrumented dummies register forces and impacts during the crash, which NHTSA uses to predict frontal head and chest injuries.
The New Car Assessment Program crash test results are reported in a range of one to five stars, with five stars indicating the best crash protection for vehicles within the same weight class. Head and chest data, which indicate the chance of a life-threatening injury, are combined into a single rating, reflected by the number of stars. These represent a vehicle's relative level of crash protection in a head-on collision. Thigh injury, thought rarely life-threatening, is also measured in the tests. Such injury can be disabling, and if a high likelihood of thigh injury occurs in the tests, it will be noted in the charts.
Test results show the relative crash protection provided to front seat occupants using all of the vehicle's occupant protection equipment. Occupant protection equipment consists of safety belts or a combination of safety belts and air bags. The results do not apply to unbelted occupants. The occupant equipment provided on each tested vehicle is shown to the right of the vehicle's overall score.
NHTSA emphasized that the crash test results for frontal impact are meaningful only for comparing relative injury risk in frontal collisions between vehicles of similar weight, within an approximate weight range of 500 pounds. The test results for passenger cars are presented in separate tables for each weight class and listed alphabetically within each table. Separate tables are provided for sport utility vehicles, vans, and light trucks. In head-on collisions involving two vehicles of different weights, occupants in lighter weight vehicles almost always experience greater risk of injury than those in heavier vehicles.
The federal safety agency said the side crash used to test these passenger cars simulates a typical intersection collision between two vehicles. In the tests, forces are measured on two crash dummies when a moving, deformable barrier is angled into the side of a car at 38.5 mph.
The 38.5 mph speed of the deformable barrier is 5 mph faster than the speed prescribed for compliance with the existing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 214, "Side Impact Protection." The crash tests are conducted at the higher speed to demonstrate differences that are more apparent at 38.5 mph than at 33.5 mph. The test results will be presented in a "star" format - one to five stars, with five stars being the best score - to make the technical crash results easy for consumers to understand.
Crash-test dummies -- designed specifically to measure human-like responses in the side direction -- are placed in the driver position and in the rear seat position behind the driver. As in the frontal test, the two dummies are secured with all available restraints. Instruments measure the force of impact to the dummy's chest and pelvis. The chest data, which indicate the chance of life-threatening injury, is signified in a single rating reflected by the number of stars. Pelvic injury also is measured. While pelvic injury is rarely life-threatening, it can be disabling. If a high likelihood of pelvic injury occurs in the lateral test, it will be noted in the charts. In reviewing the front and lateral star ratings, keep in mind that, in real world crashes, vehicles are twice as likely to be involved in severe frontal crashes as in severe side crashes.
Test results will be announced in groups, with the first expected late this year. Consumers can request test results and additional information on the NCAP program and other safety topics by visiting the web site at www.nhtsa.dot.gov or by calling the agency's toll-free Auto Safety Hotline at (800) 424-9393 or (202) 366-0123 in the Washington area.
|Vehicles Selected for Testing in the 1998 New Car Assessment Program|
|Chrysler||Dodge||Ram ExCab||PU ExCab||YES||NO|
|Chrysler||Jeep||Grand Cherokee||4-dr Utility||YES||NO|
|* Extended cab pickup|
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