1999  01  0100
Vehicle Crash Severity Assessment
in Lateral Pole Impacts
Michael S. Varat
Stein E. Husher
KEVA Engineering
Copyright 0 1999 Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc.
ABSTRACT
This paper surveys some current technologies in
reconstructing lateral narrow object impacts. This is
accomplished through a multistep process. First,
staged crash test data is reviewed and presented in
order to understand the observable vehicle structural
deformation trends. A commonly used crush energy
reconstruction algorithm (CRASH) is then applied to the
test data and an analysis is made of the application of
this tool to this impact mode. The use of default
structural parameters as used in CRASH 3 is also
discussed. A linear and angular momentum analysis is
developed in order to demonstrate closed form vehicle
dynamics prediction methodologies for noncentral
lateral impacts. The momentum methods presented are
compared to a commonly used impact simulation tool.
Finally, change in velocity (AV) and the use and analysis
of AV for lateral pole impact reconstruction is discussed.
INTRODUCTION
Pole impacts, especially lateral, comprise one of the
most aggressive impact environments for automobile
structures. Due to the close proximity of occupants to
the side structure, these pole impacts represent a more
severe crash exposure than comparable impacts to
other structures. By their nature, these impacts
concentrate the deformation energy in a narrow portion
of the vehicle structure. Subsequently, vehicle
deformation patterns differ from what is often seen in
vehicle to vehicle side impacts. Because of the unique
nature of these narrow object impacts, the reconstruction
of lateral pole impacts requires a careful analysis of both
vehicle structural behavior and the resulting vehicle
motion dynamics. The vehicle structural behavior is
dependant on many factors which include the deformed
area of the vehicle, the structural properties of the
vehicle, and the width of the impacting object. The
resulting vehicle dynamics are a function of the amount
In this paper, the algorithm for crush energy determination as used in
CRASH 3 and other commercially available software will be referred to
as the CRASH algorithm. 175
of deformation, the location of that deformation on the
vehicle and the orientation of the impact impulse. These
factors must be accounted for when performing a
reconstruction or analysis of these narrow object lateral
impacts.
Frontal pole impacts have been well addressed in
numerous, previous, technical papers. However, lateral
pole impacts involve vehicle response that is not
commonly seen in frontal collisions. Rotational
components often become significant, vehicle structural
properties differ from frontals, and crash severity
assessment becomes more dependent on location within
the vehicle. Though not addressed here, hard spots
(e.g., wheel areas) on the sides of vehicles can also
significantly influence the resulting deformation patterns
and vehicle dynamics.
CRUSH ENERGY DETERMINATION
The structural response of an impacted vehicle may
depend on many factors. These factors include
construction type (unibody, frame on body), material
(steel, aluminum, plastics such as SMC, etc.), and
assembly methods. Additionally, impact parameters
also affect the vehicle response, in some instances to a
greater degree than vehicle structural properties. The
impact parameters include impacting geometry (shape,
width, etc.), principal impulse direction, and impact
location on the vehicle. In the case of a lateral narrow
object impact, the impact parameters are extremely
important to the determination of a vehicles response to
impact and require careful scrutiny.
Vehicle crash testing exists as the most reliable method
to evaluate impact response. This crash testing has
historically consisted of distributed impacts by flat rigid
barriers. These flat barrier impacts load the vehicle in a
distributed fashion over a large surface area. This
allows many different structural components of the
vehicle to resist the intruding barrier and therefore the
resulting crush is a function of many different vehicle
components. Pole impacts, however, load the vehicle in
Table 1. Repeat Barrier Moving Pole Impact Tests.
an extremely concentrated fashion. These narrow object
impacts concentrate the direct load over a width equal to
the pole diameter, which can be extremely small.
Therefore, a given amount of absorbed energy for a
lateral pole impact will result in increased maximum
deformation depth when compared to a flat barrier.
The majority of crash test data available to the accident
reconstruction engineer consists of flat barrier testing.
This is due to compliance testing sponsored by the U.S.
Department of Transportation for the Federal Motor
Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS), none of which, until
recently, have included narrow object impacts.
Government mandated lateral crash testing has
consisted of FMVSS 301 which is a 20 mph lateral
impact by a moving flat barrier and FMVSS 214 which is
a 33 mph lateral impact by a crabbed moving barrier
equipped with a deformable honeycomb face. While
FMVSS 214 is not a flat rigid barrier, it is a distributed
impact that approximates the impact geometry of the
frontal structures of another passenger car. Neither of
these impacts serve to simulate a lateral pole impact
with its associated narrow load concentration. Recently,
the NHTSA has included a 20 mph lateral impact into a
rigid pole as a part of the head protection standard. It is
hoped, that as these tests become more widespread,
that the lateral pole impact database of tests will
continue to grow.
When researching lateral pole impacts, several data
sources become available. More recently, tests have
been conducted for the development of the CRASH
algorithm reformulation by NHTSA. These moving pole
tests are summarized in Table 1. The Federal Highway
Administration (FHWA) which has been concerned with
the design of roadside devices such as luminaire
supports, roadway sign posts, and guardrails, has
conducted extensive crash testing of vehicles with
narrow objects. As the scope of this paper does not
encompass yielding and nonrigid barriers, only the rigid
pole impacts are reviewed. If desired, however, yielding
and breakaway devices have also been extensively
tested and provide useful vehicle response information.
These tests conducted by the Federal Highway
Administration at the Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory
(FOIL) [Hinch, 19871 facility are available through the
National Crash Analysis Center (NCAC) at George
Washington University and most are summarized in the
NHTSA Vehicle Crash Test Database (VCTDB) [ASG,
19851.
The FHWA  FOIL database of tests contains baseline
tests to evaluate the impact response into rigid poles in
order to pursue design activities into breakaway poles
and luminaire supports. Applicable FOIL tests are listed
in Table 2. Also in Table 2 are single impact pole tests
from the VCTDB. When examining Table 2, there are
three listed parameters that merit further discussion,
maximum crush, path travel distance and impulse
moment arm. The maximum crush is listed as a single
Table 2. Car to Riaid Pole Imoacts.
176
parameter. As is evident, vehicles having experienced a
collision with a rigid pole have a crush profile that varies
over the wi dth of di rect and i nduced damage.
Historically, maximum crush has been examined in pole
impact vehicle crashes because it is representative of
the total deceleration distance experienced by the
vehicle. Also, for much of the pole impact crash test
data available in the public domain, maximum crush is
the only readily available crush parameter. Therefore, it
is useful to attempt to develop relationships between
maximum crush to absorbed energy. Approach and
absorbed energy are both listed as available in Table 2.
Approach energy is the vehicles kinetic energy at the
moment of impact. The absorbed energy is the
difference between the vehicle preimpact and post
impact kinetic energy. For centered impacts, with no
post impact travel, the approach energy approximates
the absorbed energy (assumes zero restitution). For
higher speed lateral pole impacts, photographic data
indicates low restitution values are often observed.
There are some additional tests that were done as a part
of NHTSAs research into experimental safety vehicles.
These 1981 VW Rabbit tests [Bell, 19841 were done with
baseline production vehicles and then modified structure
vehicles in order to document the response changes
associated with modified vehicle structure. Only
production vehicle tests are used in the present analysis.
These are also listed in Table 2.
There is an additional data analysis issue that must be
addressed regarding Table 2. When tests are done in
an oblique fashion, the actual pole deformation travel is
not a distance measured perpendicularly from the
vehicle side. Rather, the pole travels a greater distance
while crushing vehicle structure and the actual travel
distance during crush must be accounted for during the
impact phase. Therefore, for the oblique collisions, the
actual pole travel distance through vehicle structure is
used, rather than the perpendicular crush which is
generally used when reporting crash test data.
The third parameter of interest is the impulse moment
arm. Mechanics demonstrates that the absorbed energy
in an offset impact can be shown to be:
AbsorbedEnergy = i. Mass. V,f (
kk+h) (1
In Equation (l), k = radius of gyration and h = impulse
moment arm. Therefore, when the impulse moment arm
is known, the actual absorbed energy can be
determined. This analysis is performed for each test in
which the impulse moment arm could be determined.
Examination of Table 2 will indicate that the impulse
moment arm is unknown for three of the FOIL tests. The
reader is advised that these tests must be applied with
care because the actual absorbed energy may be lower
than the approach energy listed.
As is evident when examining this data, there is a limited
set of available test data on lateral pole impacts. The
test data in the public domain is only for limited vehicles ,77
and but for the repeat barrier Golf and Escort, this data
is primarily concentrated at a narrow test range.
Therefore, any conclusions drawn from this data must be
carefully considered when attempting to apply this data
to other vehicles.
Figure 1 is a plot of absorbed energy versus maximum
residual crush for the test data listed in Tables 1 and 2.
Figure 2, Figure 3, and Figure 4 are absorbed energy
versus maximum crush plots for the small cars, larger
cars, and trucks / SUVs respectively. For Figures l4
crush width is not accounted for. While encompassing
several different vehicles of varying manufacturers, this
data shows a relatively consistent trend. By plotting
absorbed energy, the data accounts for varying test
weights and impact severity.
Examination of Figure 1 indicates increasing absorbed
energy with increasing depth of crush. However, due to
the large variability in vehicle type, the data is not well
bounded and trends are not readily defined.
When the smaller vehicles are considered, Figure 2, the
data indicates a clearly second order relationship
between absorbed energy and crush. As this is to be
expected for a linear, isotropic material, Figure 2
demonstrates the linear, plastic spring may serve as an
adequate model for these vehicles. Observation of the
graph indicates a data point that is outside the bounds of
the other data. This data point is found at 34039 ftlb at
35 inches crush and is representative of the oblique
Rabbit test conducted at 20.1 mph [Bell, 19841. When
comparing this test to the other two Rabbit tests,
differences in structural stiffness are apparent. This is
due to the different impact configurations present among
all three tests. The 19.95 mph test had an initial contact
point further forward which resulted in structural
engagement with the front wheel arch and apillar area.
The 20.1 mph test however, engaged further rearward
and missed this stiffer structure. Examination of the 24.9
mph test results indicates that stiffer structures located
toward the aft end of the door and rear portion of the
vehicle are encountered. Therefore, although the same
vehicle is tested in all three impacts, different structural
engagement results in different stiffness,
Examination of Figure 3, the large cars also demonstrate
a second order relationship between absorbed energy
and residual crush. However, extrapolation of the data
should be considered carefully due to the lack of lower
severity data. In fact, tests with deformation less than 10
inches are not available in this data set.
Figure 4, the trucks and SUV data once again
demonstrates an approximate second order relationship.
The minimal amount of data, however, precludes the
determination of definite stiffness trends. Two full size
pickup trucks are shown in Figure 4. While the absorbed
energy is approximately equal between the Ford and
Chevrolet, the maximum reported crush is approximately
6 % inches less for the Chevrolet. Review of the test
data reports indicates that the Chevrolet impacted
further aft than the Ford which engaged the stiffer
forward edge of the cargo bed.
As we observed in the Rabbit tests and the full size
pickup truck tests, small differences in contact location
can result in observable differences in structural
engagement and therefore in the resulting crush
response.
All Vehicles
mo
I
iaro0~ l *i i
00.
00 100 200 300 400 500 600
Crush (I,
Figure 1. All Test Vehicles Energy Plot.
00
00 10 0 20.0 30 0 40 0 500 50 0
Maxmum Crush (I)
Figure 2. Small Cars Test Vehicles Energy Plot.
00 50 10 0 150
Maxmum Crash (on)
Figure 3. Large Cars Test Vehicles
20 0 25 0
Energy Plot.
Truck I SW
M)wo.o _
.
_1
.
MWO.0
0.0 7
0.0 50
1 I
10.0 15.0
Maam Gush (in)
20.0 25.0
Figure 4. Truck I SUV Test Vehicles Energy Plot.
PATH ANALYSIS
Based on the law of Conservation of Energy, the work
performed during deformation of vehicle structure is
equal to the absorbed energy. This work, by definition is
the scalar product:
dU=&G
dU = jFllds1 cos a (*I
Equations (2) state that the work can be equated to the
dot product of the force and the displacement along the
direction of force application. Therefore, when
evaluating test data, the pole displacement into vehicle
structure is more meaningful than the perpendicular
crush. This is because, as long as resistance is felt,
energy is being absorbed along the entire path of travel
of the pole into the vehicle structure. If one assumes the
vehicle structure to behave as a homogeneous, isotropic
material, then the structural resistance does not change
as damage is seen along an oblique line of action into
the vehicle. An example of this can be seen in Figure 5,
which shows the 1987 VW Golf after an oblique impact
[Markusic, 19911.
Figure 5. VW Golf Test 2 Crush Profile.
If one plots the perpendicular crush, then the maximum
crush depth is 25 inches. However, if the pole path
travel distance is determined, then the actual maximum
crush amount is 40 inches. Therefore, for oblique
impacts plotted in Figures 14, the structural absorbed
energy is plotted versus the actual pole travel depth
178 rather than the perpendicular crush depth. While the
pole travel distances are determined through the use of
scale drawings of the crush profile, one can make a
simplifying assumption that the pole travels straight into
the vehicle, with very little curvature of path. If this is
assumed, then the path crush depth can be determined
from the perpendicular crush depth as follows:
crushpat,, =
CYushperpendicuhr
c0s(e)
(3)
This angle, theta, is the amount in degrees that the
impact varies from a perpendicular impact. If a crush
energy model is to be applied that accounts for crush
width, and an isotropic material is assumed for the
vehicle, then crushing along this angled path also
requires an adjustment (decrease) to the crush width by
a factor equal to cosine(theta).
CRUSH AVERAGING
For some crush energy analysis methodologies, it is
often required to distill the crush to a single average
value. Different methodologies are available to do this.
For pole impacts the typical profile is similar to a bell
shaped curve, as shown in Figure 6. Upon examination,
it is evident that the endpoints approach a value of zero
crush. When averaging, careful consideration must be
utilized so as to avoid the over or under representation
of the zero values at the endpoints.
CX
Figuz 6. Ty$cal PolzCrush irofile.
cc
If the profile in Figure 6 is represented in a crash test
data report, the standard 6 values, Ci would be:
Cl =o
C2=4
c3= IO
C4=18
c5=11
C6 = 0
The length, L = 50 inches.
If the average is desired to be the depth of an equivalent
area of rectangular crush of same width, then that is
easily determined. The area is 430 in. The C Ci = 43. If
the endpoints are entirely neglected, then the C Ci /4 * L
= 537.5 in2. This clearly overestimates the crush by
resulting in an equivalent area that is 25% too large. If
both endpoints are considered, then the equivalent area
is C Ci 16 * L = 358.5 in2. This obviously underestimates
the area by approximately 17%. Now, examine C Ci /5 *
L = 430 in2, and, it can be seen that the correct
denominator is 5 in order to match equivalent area. This
follows from the assumption that areas are approximated
by rectangles, but the tails are triangles, thus 4
rectangl es and 2 tri angl es are approxi matel y 5
179
rectangles. This methodology can be extended to any
number of segments of the length, L.
CRASH ALGORITHM ANALYSIS
The CRASH algorithm is an often applied methodology
for the determination of energy absorbed due to crush.
Commercially available software is marketed or the
algorithm is simple enough to program into a spread
sheet program. However, it is critical to understand the
theory behind this algorithm in order to correctly apply it
to an individual case analysis. While the model is a
useful predictor of crush energy, it is possible to obtain
unsatisfactorily large errors due to the user mishandling
some of the programs assumptions. A brief review is
undertaken here of the underlying equations for crush
energy determination. The integrated equation for crush
energy determination takes 3 different forms depending
on whether there are 2, 4, or 6 points for the measured
crush profile. These 3 different forms are shown in the
following equations. Equation (4) is for 6 point crush
profiles, Equation (5) is for 4 points, and Equation (6) is
for 2 points.
~(c,+2c,+2c,+2c4+2c,+c,)
&p)~+;( 2
i
c, +2c: + 24 +2c: +2c: ic: +c,cz +c2c3 + c,c, +c4cs +c,c,)}
+5G 6  pints
\ i
Equation (4). 6 Point Crush Profile.
L
I
++(ci +2c,2 +2c,2 +c; +c,c, +czc3 +c,c,)}
I
+3G 4  points
Equation (5). 4 Point Crush Profile.
2  points
Equation (6). 2 Point Crush Profile.
Additionally, for oblique damage, a Tangential Correction
Factor (TCF) is used to account for the increased crush
energy due to oblique crush. This TCF is as follows:
TCF = 1 + tan 8 , where 8 is the angle from normal for
the PDOF. This relationship is derived in the CRASH 3
program documentation [CRASH 3, 19821. It is based
on increasing the crush depth due to the oblique line of
action but with no adjustment to crush width. This
Tangential Correction Factor has a maximum value = 2
placed on it by the program and therefore maximizes at
45 degrees. The TCF is applied as follows:
E
oblique = 4ormol * TCF = J%7rmal
. (1+ tan2 S). (7)
Examination of the TCF demonstrates that for a given
profile, the calculated energy can be increased by a
factor of two due to the TCF. Therefore, care must be
exercised in assigning the crush stiffness values, crush
profile, and PDOF due to the sensitivity of the calculation
to these inputs.
When applying the CRASH methodology to a lateral pole
impact, several options exist to account for the crush
profile, crush stiffness, and oblique correction factor. In
order to evaluate the application of these parameters to
staged collision test data, twenty cases are run for each
crash test where a crush profile is known. Several tests
in Table 1 are not used for this CRASH analysis
because test reports are not available and the reported
crush profile could not be verified. The test data utilized
in this analysis are listed in Table 3. Because of the
different methods available to apply the CRASH
algorithm, 20 cases are identified for analysis. Each
case methodology is applied to all tests and the errors in
predicted crush energy are evaluated. For each test, the
structural stiffness values A and B are calculated based
on the test data and then variations of the CRASH
methodology are applied to then see whether the test
measured absorbed energy could be determined. Since
the test is the basis for the determination of A and B,
then a correct application of CRASH should arrive back
at the test absorbed energy. If there is any difference in
the test and calculated absorbed energy, then that will
be due to limitations in the assumptions for that
particular case. An overview of the cases employed is
as follows:
CRASH 3 Method (default A and B)
Cases l4
B Calculation from Average Crush
Cases 58
B Calculation from Crush Profile
Cases 9l 2
B Calculation from Crush Profile with TCF
Cases 1316
B Calculation from Crush Profile  Cosine Corrected
Cases 17l 8
B Calculation from Average Crush  Cosine Corrected
Cases 1920
These cases are programmed in a spreadsheet and the
results analyzed. A discussion of each case follows.
Table 3 lists the calculated B stiffness values for each
case, Table 4 lists the calculated absorbed energy for
each test and Table 5 lists the observed percent errors
from the crush energy predictions.
In order to isolate the calculation of crush energy, the
kinematics equations used in CRASH are not
programmed into this spreadsheet and Delta V is not
calculated. Therefore, this analysis only examines the
calculation of crush energy.
CALCULATION OF B
There are several methodologies to employ when
calculating the structural parameter B, as used in
CRASH. These are referred to as Methods 1 through 5
in Table 4 and will be discussed individually.
Method 1: This is the recommended method for
calculating B as used in many commercially available
versions of the CRASH program [Hargens]. This
method of calculating the B value employs the average
crush, the Barrier Equivalent Velocity and the crush
width. The offset velocity for zero crush is assumed to
be zero for all vehicles. The B value is calculated using
Equation (8).
Method 2: As is found in the cases that used Method I,
when the B stiffness coefficient is calculated using the
average crush, and the actual crush profile is input into
the CRASH method, differences will result. Therefore,
Method 2 is developed which calculates B by solving the
CRASH Energy equation for B with all other parameters
known. A, the parameter based on the offset velocity for
zero crush, is once again assumed to be zero. This
method of calculating the B value employs the actual
crush profile, the energy absorbed in the test and the
crush width. The B value is calculated using Equation
(9).
B = 30E c; +24 +24 +24 +24 +c; + c,q +c2c3 +c3c4 +c4c5 +c5c6
L
Equation (9). B Stiffness Calculation.
Method 3: When analyzing oblique crashes, the
CRASH method applies a tangential correction factor.
Therefore, this can be accounted for when calculating
the structural parameter B for oblique crashes.
Subsequently, Method 3 employs the TCF when
calculating B for the oblique crash tests. This method
also employs the crush profile as with Method 2. A is
once again assumed to be zero. This method of
calculating the B value employs the actual crush profile,
the energy absorbed in the test, the PDOF, and the
crush width. The B value is calculated using Equation
(19).
B = 30E(
c; + 24 + 24 f 24 + 24 + c; +c,cz +c2c3 + c,c, + c4c5 + C5C6
>
L*(l+tan28)
Equation (10). B Stiffness Calculation.
Method 4: Method 4 is similar to Method 1 except that
the average crush depth and width are both corrected by
the cosine of the PDOF measured from normal for the
oblique crash tests. This follows from the assumption of
an isotropic material for the vehicle which dictates that
180 the actual crush resistance should be determined along
Table 3. Crush Profiles and Stiffness Data.
the axis of deformation. A is once again assumed to be
zero. The B value is calculated using Equation (11).
B =
gL . cos I9
(11)
Method 5: Method 5 is similar to Method 2 except that
the average crush depth and width are both corrected by
the cosine of the PDOF measured from normal for the
oblique crash tests. This follows from the assumption of
an isotropic material for the vehicle which dictates that
the actual crush resistance should be determined along
the axis of deformation. A is once again assumed to be
zero. The B value is calculated using Equation (12).
30E
c; + 24 + 24 + 2c: I 24 f c; + c,cz + CIC) + qc4 + C&5 + C&
cos2 6 i
/
L.COSB
Equation (12). B Stiffness Calculation.
CRASH ENERGY CALCULATIONS
Case 1: Case 1 uses the default A and B values as
programmed into the CRASH 3 program. These values
are based on placing the test vehicles into categories
based on wheelbase or structural groupings. The actual
crush profile from the test is then input along with the
PDOF. This is a common application of the CRASH
methodology in reconstruction programs.
The energy calculated in this approach varies randomly
from under predicting by approximately 93% to over
predicting by approximately 75%. This wide range in
error in predicting crush energy for staged crash tests
indicate that the use of default structural properties is not
appropriate for a reconstruction of a particular lateral
pole impact. This observation is consistent with what
has been observed for other crash types.
Case 2: Case 2 also uses the default A and B
structural properties. However, unlike Case 1, no
Tangential Correction Factor (TCF) is applied to the
calculated energy. As would be expected, the calculated
energy is consistently lower for the oblique crash tests
and this methodology consistently underpredicts crush
energy for all cases. The underprediction varied from 0
to almost 100%. While some calculations resulted in
zero errors, that is not the situation for every vehicle.
Therefore, unless staged collision test data is available
to verify the results, this Case 2 method is not
recommended for use in the reconstruction of a
particular accident.
Case 3: Case 3 also uses crush coefficients A and B
based on default class categories. However, rather than
input the test crush profile, the crush width and average
crush are input instead. The average crush is
determined such that the crush area will be correct. The
Tangential Correction Factor is applied to the calculated
crush energy.
The energy calculated in this approach underestimates
energy from 0 to almost 100%. Except for 2 of the
oblique tests, Case 3 consistently performed worse than
Case 1.
Case 4: Case 4 is exactly the same as Case 3, except
that no Tangential Correction Factor is applied.
The energy calculated in this approach varies randomly
from under predicting by approximately 95% to over
predicting by almost 50%. Case 4 and Case 3 reported
the same errors for the nonoblique tests.
Case 5: Case 5 uses calculated structural properties
,8, based on the test data. The A value is assumed to be
zero because there is no elastic energy absorption
components (such as bumpers) on vehicle sides.
Vehicles experience permanent damage with extremely
low severity lateral impacts. The B value used is
calculated by Method 1.
You will note that in the calculation for
is used. This average is determined in
as described earlier.
The energy calculation is performed
B, average crush
the same fashion
by inputting the
actual crush profile and then applying the TCF to the
results. As would be expected, because B is calculated
using the average crush and the energy calculation is
performed on the crush profile, differences must result.
The use of the Tangential Correction Factor (TCF),
without accounting for this factor in the B calculation
results in significant errors in the oblique tests. In fact,
the range of overprediction for this methodology is from
27 to 67% for the nonoblique tests. Overprediction
errors for the oblique tests ranged from 148% to 192%.
Case 6: Case 6 is done with a B value calculated in the
same fashion as Case 5 (Method 1). Unlike Case 5,
there is no TCF applied when the CRASH energy
equation is used to calculate absorbed energy. As in
Case 5, since the B value is calculated using the
average crush, and the energy is calculated using the
profile crush, then there must be errors. The errors in
the oblique tests decrease with this methodology
showing an over prediction from 24% to 46%. The non
oblique tests reported the same errors as Case 5.
Case 7: Case 7 employs the same Method 1 B
calculation as Case 5. That is, B is calculated using the
average crush. The energy, however is also calculated
using the average crush. Subsequently, the energy is
calculated using the same methodology as is assumed
for the B calculation. The TCF is then applied. The TCF
will only affect the results for the oblique tests.
As woul d be expected, si nce the crush energy
calculation is performed using the same assumptions as
t he B val ue cal cul at i on, t he predi ct ed energy
demonstrates zero error for the nonoblique tests. This
merely proves that the assumptions in the model are
consistent. If you calculate B using the average, in order
to achieve the same results in CRASH, the case must be
analyzed using the average crush. As would also be
expected, the TCF doubles the calculated energy for the
oblique tests because the TCF is neglected in the B
value calculation. Subsequently, the oblique tests show
100% error in predicted crush energy.
Case 8: Case 8 is conducted in a similar fashion to
Case 7, except that the TCF is not employed in the
energy calculation. Method 1 is used to calculate B.
The calculated energy in this case predicts the test
energy accurately for all tests. This is to be expected
because the CRASH analysis is performed in the exact
same fashion as the B value calculation.
Case 9: As is found in the previous cases, when the B
stiffness coefficient is calculated using the average
crush, and the actual crush profile is input into the
CRASH method, differences will result. Therefore, Case
9 calculates B by solving the CRASH Energy equation
for B with all other parameters known. Therefore, this is
Method 2 for calculating B. A is once again assumed to
be zero. The actual crush profile is then input into
Table 4. Energy Calculations
182
Table 5. Percent Errors in Predicted Crush Energy.
CRASH with the B value consistent with that. The TCF
is then applied. The TCF will only affect the results for
the oblique tests.
The energy calculated in this approach predicts the
energy accurately for the nonoblique tests. This is of
course expected, since the B value calculation and the
CRASH calculation are performed using the exact same
basis. For the oblique tests, the TCF causes the
calculated energy to be in error by 100%. This is
because all of these oblique cases are at 45 degrees
which is the maximum value of 2 for the TCF. This
result is also expected for the oblique cases, because
the B value is calculated without accounting for the TCF.
Case IO: The same B value as in Case 9 is used. That
is, Method 2 is employed. However, no Tangential
Correction Factor is applied in the CRASH energy
calculation. The test profile is entered into the CRASH
energy calculation.
Since the same assumptions are used for both the B
value calculation and the energy calculations, this
method predicted the test energy accurately, with zero
errors for all tests.
Case 11: Case 11 is the same as for Case 9, except
for some small variations. The same B value is used as
determined through Method 2. The TCF is applied to the
energy calculation. The only difference is that the
average crush is used in the CRASH energy calculation.
Since B is determined using the profile crush, and the
energy calculation is performed using the average,
errors are to be expected. This case consistently under
predicts the nonoblique tests by 20% to 40% while
consistently overpredicting the oblique tests by 37% to
60%.
Case 12: Case 12 is conducted in the same fashion as
Case 11. The only difference, is that the TCF is not
applied.
Case 12 results in consistent underprediction by 19% to
40%. The nonoblique tests showed the same errors as
Case 11. The oblique test errors are all less than Case
11 oblique test errors.
Case 13: In many commercially available CRASH
versions (e.g. EDCRASH, SLAM, etc.), the TCF cannot
be removed from the energy calculation. Therefore, it is
desired to arrive at a consistent B value calculation
method that will result in zero errors for all tests. Case
13 accomplishes this. The A value is set to zero for the
same reasons as previously discussed. The CRASH
energy calculation, including the tangential correction
factor is solved for each crash test for the B value.
Therefore, in the oblique tests, the calculated B assumes
that the TCF will be applied later and the B value is
decreased to compensate for that. This is previously
described as Method 3 for calculating B.
The energy calculations are then performed using the
crush profile and the TCF and the resulting errors are
observed. As would be expected, the calculated energy
exactly matches the test recorded energy for all tests.
Case 14: If the same B values (Method 3) as used in
Case 13 are then applied in the CRASH energy
equation, without the TCF, then the results are as
expected. Here the B value is calculated to account for
the TCF being applied in the energy calculations.
However, the TCF is turned off for the energy calculation
which results in this case accurately predicting the non
oblique tests (no TCF required) but underpredicting all
of the oblique tests by 50%.
Case 15: Case 15 is an exact duplication of Case 13,
except that the CRASH energy equation is calculated
with the average crush. That is, the 2 point version of
the Crash Energy equation is applied using a E? value
that is obtained by backcalculating the 6 point version of
the CRASH energy equation. The TCF is applied in
Case 15. Therefore, Case 15 demonstrates the situation
of using the crush profile to calculate B, then using the
,83 average crush in the CRASH energy calculation. As
expected, energy is underpredicted by 19% to 40%.
Errors observed are the same as for Case 12, which is
to be expected.
Case 16: Case 16 duplicates the calculation method
used for Case 15 (B from Method 3), except the TCF is
not applied. As expected, the errors are the same as
Case 15 for the nonoblique tests and rise considerably
for the oblique tests. The energy calculated in this
approach under predicts by 21 to 66%.
Case 17: As seen in the earlier discussion of crush
path, oblique damage is seen as an increase in crush
path which is proportional to the cosine of the angle off
normal. Additionally, the crush width decreases in
proportion to the cosine of the angle. Therefore, based
on geometry, the cosine of the angle off normal would
appear to be a better factor to use to account for oblique
crush than the TCF used in CRASH. The validity of this
approach would depend on the assumption that the
vehicle behaves isotropically. The isotropic assumption
requires the structural resistance to not vary by direction.
To apply this factor, a version of CRASH that allows
eliminating or modifying the TCF would have to be
used. This may preclude some commercial versions of
the CRASH methodology. In order to investigate the use
of the cosine adjustment, the following analysis is
performed. For oblique crush, the pole travel distance
can be determined for the six crush points by dividing by
the cosine of the angle off of normal. Then, as in
previous cases, the CRASH energy equation is back
calculated and solved for the B value assuming this
increased crush depth and decreased crush width. This
B value is then used back in the CRASH equation along
with the actual crash test damage profile. For oblique
crush, the crash test damage profile is also adjusted by
the cosine of the angle when input into the CRASH
energy equation in order to be consistent with the B
value calculation method. The A value is kept at zero.
This B value calculation method is described in Method
5. As expected, this case resulted in zero errors for all
predicted crush energy values. The advantage of this
method is that a B value may be calculated from a non
oblique crash test, and with the assumption of an
isotropic material, can be applied to an oblique crash.
The oblique crush damage merely has to be adjusted for
the actual deformation distance into the vehicle which is
dependant on the cosine of the angle off normal. The
large errors sometimes seen due to the TCF are
corrected with this approach.
Case 18: Case 18 is conducted in the same fashion as
Case 17 (B calculation by Method 5) except that the
average crush is input into the CRASH energy equation.
Since the B value is calculated using the profile, and the
CRASH energy equation is computed using the average
crush, Case 18 involved inconsistent basis and resulted
in underprediction of 19% to 40% for crush energy. As
expected, the errors are the same as for Case 15 and
Case 12.
Case 19: In order to verify that a consistent application
of data will result in correct answers, Case 17 is now
recomputed using the average crush. That is, the
average crush is corrected by the cosine of the angle off
normal and used to calculate the B stiffness value. This
is described in Method 4. Then a 2 point version of the
CRASH energy equation is computed with the average
crush again modified by the cosine of the angle off
normal. As expected, since the average value is used
for both the B calculation method and for the application
of the CRASH energy equation, the results are identical
and zero errors are observed for all tests.
Case 20: While the Cosine Correction Method appears
to accurately predict crush energy, the user has to also
beware of some of the simplification errors that can
result. Case 20 uses the average crush to calculate the
B value (Method 4) and then inputs the actual profile into
the CRASH energy equation. Since the average is used
to determine B, and the actual profile is used to calculate
the energy using the B determined from the average, an
inconsistent basis exists. The energy calculated in this
approach over predicts by 24 to 67%. This Case
demonstrates the inherent, expected errors through the
use of the average crush to calculate stiffness
coefficients and then using the actual crush profile in the
energy calculations. As expected, the observed errors
are the same as for Case 6 where a similar approach is
made.
COMPARISON BETWEEN FLAT BARRIER AND
POLE BARRIER
Due to the limited availability of lateral pole impact crash
test data, it is unlikely that a specific test will exist for
every vehicle encountered in an actual collision analysis.
However, lateral crash tests with distributed barriers are
more common and may be available for a specific
vehicle. It is of interest to determine how well a lateral
pole impact can be reconstructed using data from a
distributed impact.
In order to evaluate this, an impact by a rigid moving
barrier into a 1988 Ford Escort [Markusic, 19951 is
analyzed and used to predict the absorbed energy for
the 1986 Ford Escort lateral pole impacts [ Markusic,
19911. The crush profile for this distributed impact is
shown in Figure 7.
36
Figure 7. Escort RMB Crush Profile
This analysis is performed using several different
techniques. For all techniques, the A value in the
CRASH methodology is assumed to be zero. The height
of crush becomes a confounding variable in this
t84 analysis. The moving rigid barrier uses a front profile
that approximates a car frontal shape. Therefore, the
barrier slightly overrides the side sill. Subsequently,
there is greater penetration into the door at the hpoint
elevation than at sill elevation. A rigid pole impacted
vehicle, however, experiences similar crush depth with
varying elevation due to the configuration. For the
following analysis, the hpoint height crush and the sill
elevation crush are averaged in the rigid moving barrier
test to create an effective crush profile to calculate the B
value. This B value is then applied to the three Escort
pole impacts and absorbed energy is predicted. For
example, Figure 8 is a scale plot of the second Escort
pole impact which has a similar absorbed energy as the
RMB impact, Figure 7. Note, however, the differences in
crush profiles between the distributed impact versus the
narrow object impact.
Figure 8. Escort Pole.
Case A: First, the B value is determined for the flat
barrier test using the average crush and not corrected
for the 27 degree oblique angle experienced in that test.
The B value of 229 lb/in/in is obtained. This is the
historical method to calculate B for staged collision
testing and has been described as Method 1 previously.
Case B: Method 2 is next employed to calculate B.
Case B involved determination of the B value from the
crash test using the crush profile and solving for the B
value, without averaging. This is the proposed B value
determination methodology presented earlier that
involves back calculating the CRASH Energy equation to
arrive at B. Again , the 27 degree oblique nature of the
reference test is neglected. The B value of 194 lb/in/in is
determined. The crush profile for the pole impacts in
the CRASH algorithm is used.
Case C: Method 3 is next employed to calculate B.
Because the reference flat barrier test is oblique by 27
degrees, the B value calculated in Case B is corrected
for the oblique nature of the crush by factoring out the
energy due to oblique damage. This is done by
accounting for the TCF as previously described in
Method 3. The B value of 154 lb/in/in is determined.
Case D: Case D involves calculating the B value for the
actual deformation path by increasing the crush depth by
cosine of 27 degrees and decreasing the width by the
same amount. This is referred to as Method 4. Then,
using the corrected crush values, the crush is averaged
and a resulting B value of 204 lb/in/in is calculated.
185
Case E: Case E involves solving for the B value from
the flat barrier test and correcting the crush depth and
width by the cosine of 27 degrees. Then instead of
averaging this corrected crush as is done in Case D, the
CRASH energy equation is once again solved for the B
value. This is described as Method 5. The B value
obtained is 173 lb/in/in.
The errors in this absorbed energy prediction are shown
in Table 6.
Table 6. Errors in Crush Energy Prediction
using Fiat Barrier to Predic
/ Case A / Case B 1 CaseC
C sum
Method
C Avg. C sum I+ tar+2
Method Method Corrected
Escort
Pole 21.8% 33.7% 47.4%
Test 1
Escort
Pole 88.6% 59.9% 27.0%
Test 2
Escort
Pole 357.5% 287.8% 207.9%
Test 3
DISCUSSION OF CRASH RESULTS
Pole impacts.
Case D Case E
Cosine Cosine
Method Method
C avg C sum
30.3% 40.9%
68.1% 42.5%
307.6% 245.6%
This presentation has concentrated on analyzing the
ability of the CRASH methodology, both in original form
and modified form, to predict absorbed crush energy.
While some significant errors are seen for some of the
assumptions analyzed, note that calculated speed is not
linearly proportional to the absorbed energy. Therefore,
for a single vehicle into pole impact, the error in AV will
be less than the error in absorbed energy. Since the
CRASH analysis has demonstrated the possibility of
100% errors in absorbed energy calculations, a 41%
error in calculated speed could be expected. Table 7
gives the relationship between observed prediction
errors for absorbed energy and resulting errors in
predicted AV.
Table 7. Delta V Error Versus
Absorbed Energy Error.
Energy
Error
20% 40% 60% 80% 100% 200%
AV
Error
9.5% 18.3% 26.5% 34.2% 41.4% 73.2%
Examination of the CRASH results indicates that the
program may serve as a useful predictor of crush energy
as long as the structural properties of the vehicle are
properly analyzed. If using average crush to determine
the B stiffness value, the use of average crush in the
energy calculation will avoid errors. If using a crush
profile in the energy calculation, then the crush profile
should also be used to determine the B stiffness value.
When using a distributed barrier impact to determine
structural parameters to apply to a pole impact,
significant errors in predicted energy may result.
Therefore, eliminating inconsistencies between the data
used to calculate the stiffness parameters and the
application of those parameters in a reconstruction will
avoid undesired simplifications from adversely affecting
the results.
SPIN DYNAMICS
When the principal impulse line of action passes through
the center of gravity, there is no moment developed
around the center of gravity and therefore the vehicle
cannot experience post impact spin. For this case, the
vehicle stops at impact with possibly a minor amount of
rebound post impact motion due to the restitution
properties of the vehicle. However, a perfectly centered
collision, with no induced collision moment is rare.
When the principal impulse does not pass through the
center of gravity, a moment is developed. This is
referred to as a noncentral or offset collision. When this
occurs, by definition, the vehicle continues moving after
impact and post impact rotation is developed. A working
knowledge of dynamics indicates that this post impact
rotation is dependent on the impact severity, vehicle
inertial properties, and location of the principal impulse
line of action.
Lateral, offset pole impacts often result in large moment
arms which can introduce large post impact vehicle
rotations. This rotational energy must be accounted for
in post impact energy analysis. Because a complete
accident reconstruction attempts to account for all of the
vehicle energy when analyzing speed, it is necessary to
develop techniques that can predict spin rate at the
instant of separation. This spin rate can then be used to
calculate the post impact rotational energy which can be
used in a conservation of energy analysis to arrive at a
reconstructed impact speed.
SPIN MODELl
Impulse momentum relationships may be used to
develop a first order approximation to the resulting post
impact spin rate for an offset lateral collision. While the
simplifying assumptions present in this analysis do not
precisely follow real world collision behavior, this
technique is useful to obtain an initial approximation to
spin.
Start by writing Newtons second law in time dependent
form.
P = Momentum =
5
Fdt = mAV
(13)
Multiply both sides by the moment arm of the collision
impulse. This can now be thought of as the
conservation of angular momentum and is equal to
mk2ca:
k = radius of gyration about the c.g. and h = impulse
moment arm. The next st eps are al gebrai c
manipulation.
mk2w = mhAV
k2cx = hAV
,=$AV ( 1 5 )
As can be seen in Equation (15) the resulting post
impact rotation rate is a function of the collision impulse
moment arm (h) as well as the severity of the collision
(AV). Additionally, the radius of gyration is also present
in this analysis as the only required vehicle inertial
parameter. This simple relationship assumes that the
vehicle rotation center is at the vehicle center of gravity.
As observed by collision analysts, this is not always the
case. Generally, in a lateral collision, the vehicle rotates
about the collision interface. Therefore, while this is a
first order approximation to the rotating vehicle analysis,
it is simplified as the assumption of rotation center may
not be correct for most collisions.
SPIN MODEL2
Because of the limitations inherent in the previous
analysis of a spinning vehicle, it is useful to extend the
development to assume rotation about the collision
interface. This is done through plane kinematics. To
begin this analysis, draw the free body diagram, Figure
9. Next, the kinematic diagram, Figure 10, is drawn to
show the accelerations and motions. Note that tire
forces are neglected in this treatment.
a+
 h
V
Figure 9. Free Body Diagram
Pe h = h SFdt = mk*w (14)
186
maP
=m
mhm2
Figure 10. Kinematic Diagram
The first steo is to identifv the forces and resulting
motions from the kinematic diagram. These
identified as follows:
Z=a
are
g
= ap + (Q,l )?I + (ag,,, )!
maP
=ma
m(ag,p)n = mhu2
ffG,,,>, = mha
Now sum moments about the collision interface
algebraically solve for the angular acceleration.
C M, =~a+Cmiih=O
I=mk2 =mk2
0 = mk2a + mha(h)  ma(h cos 8)
k2a + h2a = ahcod
ff=
h (
k2 +h2
a cos 0)
(17)
and
Note that in Equation (17), the denominator, k2 + h2, is
actually the transfer of axis theorems for the radius of
gyration. Therefore, rather than use the radius of
gyration about the center of gravity (k), one may actually
use the radius of gyration about the collision interface in
place of this sum of squares (k;l = k2 + h2 ). The next
step involves writing the basic kinematic equations, plug
in Equation (17), integrate both sides, and algebraically
solve for the angular velocity.
~oxi?u= jk2 f h2 (acos6r)di9
0
CD2 h
= k2 +h2
2
2h
(18)
W=
k2 +h2
[a sine]
Equation (18) relates the post impact angular rotation
rate to the acceleration pulse. In order to apply this, the
user inputs the average acceleration and the angular
change of the vehicle achieved during the time the
acceleration operates. As can be seen in the above
analysis, there are several simplifying assumptions
present which allow us to study the predicted peak spin
achieved due to this offset impact. In an actual case
analysis, additional forces (tire forces, etc), a time
dependent acceleration profile and other factors can be
also accounted for. While beyond the scope of the
current presentation, the reader is encouraged to extend
this analysis and to study the sensitivity of these
dynamics equations to additional factors.
CRASH BASED KINEMATICS EQUATIONS
A widely used collision reconstruction algorithm is the
CRASH methodology developed at Calspan in the
1970s. This technique uses a linear, plastic spring
assumption to calculate the absorbed energy due to
vehicle crush and then uses conservation of energy and
momentum to calculate the vehicle change in velocity
(AV) based on that absorbed energy. The following
analysis uses the CRASH momentum algorithm
[CRASH, 19821, simplified for a single vehicle collision
into a rigid pole. What is found is that closed form
relationships exists to relate vehicle AV and impact
velocity based on deformation energy, vehicle geometry
and inertial properties.
The first step is to define the collision environment being
analyzed, as shown in Figure 11.
187
b
Velocity
\
Point g
C.G.
Moment
Arm
Stationary
Pole
Point P
Collision
Interface
igure 11. Graphical Problem Statement.
The collision interface must have a different acceleration
profile than the center of mass; the kinematic constraint
equations are written for this relationship. This is similar
to Spin Model2.
aR
= Up + Uglp
ag
=a,+ha
(19)
Newtons second law is then expressed to relate forces
and accelerations.
F, = tnag
(20)
The conservation of angular momentum is then
assumed.
(21)
The moment of inertia can be related to the radius of
gyration and plugged into (21).
CM=mk2a
(22)
The sum of the moments also equals force multiplied by
the moment arm of the force. Plugging into (22) and
solving for the angular acceleration results in the
following.
F h
Cl=
x
mk2
(23)
Plug (19) into (20):
Plug (23) into (24) and solve for the acceleration at the
collision interface which results in (25) below.
 F,
up =
(25)
The above equation is merely a rewritten version of
Newtons second law with a modification to the mass
term. This modification indicates an effective mass
operating at the collision interface due to the offset
nature of this collision under study. This modification to
k2
the mass term is the ratio,
k2 +h2
Additionally,
since ag = F, /VI , the relationship between the local
(collision interface) acceleration and the center of gravity
acceleration is determined:
ag=( 2
k2 )a
k+h2 p
(26)
For simplicity and ease of notation, we will declare a
k2
constant, y , such that, Y = k2 + h2 Equation (25)
now becomes:
ag = (Y >ap (27)
If one integrates Equation (27) over time, the relationship
between the local AV at the collision interface and the
center of gravity AV is obtained.
(28)
Assuming negligible preimpact rotation, the vehicle can
be though of as traveling at a single velocity into the rigid
pole. Assuming zero restitution, the local (at the collision
interface) AV is also equal to the impact velocity.
Therefore, if the CRASH methodology is used to arrive
at the center of gravity AV, then the direct calculation of
the impact speed is possible for a rigid barrier impact.
This direct method of calculating the impact speed may
then be compared to standard reconstruction methods
which use post impact runout and AV. The results
should match; this will serve as an independent check
on the calculated post impact runout. The present
analysis now requires the relationship between the
absorbed energy due to crush and the AV. Therefore,
the expression for the kinetic energy change at point P is
expressed, using the effective mass at point P.
F, = m(ap + ha)
(24)
188
Ep =;$2 +h2
k2 >.(Ay,>
2EP
Avp = (y)m
i
(29)
We now have an expression that relates the absorbed
energy to the local velocity change at the collision
interface. Because this analysis is being performed for
an impact into a nonyielding barrier, Point P at the
collision interface comes to a stop at the end of the
collision phase. Therefore, as previously identified, the
local AV at Point P is also the vehicles impact speed
into the barrier, assuming zero restitution and assuming
negligible preimpact rotation. Therefore, Equation (29)
may be rewritten as follows:
2EP
Impact Velocity = 
d
(r>m
(30)
Because the AV at the center of gravity is also desired,
that relationship is easily determined. This is
accomplished by plugging Equation (29) into Equation
(28) to obtain:
AVg = (Y)
4
2EP

(r>m
(31)
Equation 31 relates the center of gravity AV to the
absorbed energy due to vehicle crush. This value may
then be vectorially combined with the separation velocity
and the impact speed calculated. Additionally, impact
speed may also be directly calculated from Equation 30;
the same answer should result. It is necessary for the
reader to also understand that the above relationships
do not account for collision restitution. Since restitution
is generally quite low for higher speed lateral collisions,
neglecting restitution is considered valid for this
discussion. However, at low collision severity, restitution
may be significant and neglecting restitution in an
application to an individual collision analysis may cause
undesired errors. While one may use the CRASH linear
spring algorithm to calculate absorbed energy, other
methodologies may also be used. Therefore,
irrespective of the methodology to calculate the
absorbed energy, these relationships, based on plane
kinematics, may still be applied as long as the analyst
understands the underlying assumptions.
SMAC COMPARISON
In order to eval uate the previ ousl y devel oped
techniques, the following comparison is performed. The
SMAC computer simulation model [McHenry, 19711 was 189
originally developed to model the dynamic response of
colliding vehicles. The SMAC program has been
previously validated and is accepted as satisfactory for
use here to compare to the developed closed form
solutions presented in Equations (15) (18), (30) and
(31). While this is not a validation exercise, the
comparison to an accepted simulation model does
provide some meaningful insight into the expected
correlation one should expect when using these
equations corn bined with other reconstruction
techniques.
u.
0
d
E
*
I _I
Figure 12. SMAC Graphical Output
The sample collision developed for analysis is a 2500 lb.
vehicle, with a 100 inch wheelbase and a 60%/40% F/R
weight distribution. Radius of gyration (about the c.g.) is
assumed to be 50 inches. The vehicle impacts a 12 inch
wide barrier, approximating a pole impact, at 35.9 mph,
at an offset of 60 inches from the center of gravity. A
SMAC run with these initial conditions results in a center
of gravity AV of 15.4 mph and a separation velocity of
20.5 mph. Peak rotation rate is 336 deg/sec.
Spin Model 1: Equation (15) is applied to this collision
scenario and a post impact rotation rate of 370 deg/sec
is calculated. This is a difference of 10.1% and is the
largest difference seen in any of the predicted
parameters when comparing to the SMAC reference
simulation. Given the simplifications assumed in
Equation (15) 10% difference would be considered
acceptable agreement. When the instant center of
rotation is examined in the SMAC simulation, it is found
that the vehicle is rotating about the collision interface.
Even with the different assumed rotation center of
Equation (15) the agreement is satisfactory for some
reconstruction uses.
Spin Model 2: Equation 18 is next applied. This results
in a predicted rotation rate of 353 deg/sec. This is a
difference of 5.1% from the SMAC reference.
CRASH Based Model: The CRASH based model is
next applied. Using the same absorbed energy as given
by SMAC, Equation 30 predicts the impact velocity as
36.3 mph, a difference of 1.1%. Equation 31 results in a
calculated center of gravity AV of 14.5 mph, a difference
of 5.8% from the SMAC simulation model reference.
Subtracting the AV from the impact velocity results in a
predicted separation velocity of 21.8 mph, only a 5.2%
difference than predicted by SMAC.
Using the SMAC computer simulation model as a
reference, the developed closed form equations
demonstrate satisfactory correlation in this example for
many accident reconstruction purposes. The largest
difference in any of the predicted parameters is 10%.
The results of the comparison to the SMAC computer
simulation reference are summarized in Table 8. As the
closed form solutions are based on the same physics
upon which the SMAC simulation is based, correlation
between the techniques would be expected.
Table 8. Comparison of SMAC Output
to Closed Form Equations
RECONSTRUCTION APPLICATIONS
There has been si gni f i cant di scussi on i n t he
reconstruction community concerning impact speed
calculations when post impact velocity is known for a
single vehicle collision into a pole. Historically, the
separation velocity is calculated and the AV is vectorially
added to arrive at impact velocity. Before continuing, a
review of AV is required. The AV is the vector change in
velocity measured at a specific point on the vehicle.
Generally, for accident reconstruction speed calculation
purposes, the AV at the center of gravity is required.
This center of gravity AV is then added directly to the
separation velocity to arrive at the impact velocity.
When examining the literature, it is found that the
procedure as defined in the CRASH 3 manual, states,
Knowing the separation velocities, the impact speed
can be estimated from momentum considerations, or by
simple vector addition of AV +[separation velocity].
[CRASH 3, 19821. Unfortunately, there has also been
confusion by some inexperienced reconstructionists who
have continued to calculate impact velocity by adding
the sum of squares of AV and separation velocity. This
is incorrect. While there is absolutely no physics basis
for this adding squares method, there is a historical
basis for this error. When examining the kinematics
equations for a different, standard accident
reconstruction problem, some insight is gained into the
source of the error for the pole impact reconstruction.
Consider the following accident reconstruction scenario.
A vehicle is travelling at some unknown initial velocity,
then slams on the brakes and ultimately strikes a wall;
at the end of impact with the wall, the vehicle is stopped.
Figure 13 shows the velocity time graph for the
described scenario.
I
Figure 13. Velocity Time Graph.
This problem can be examined quite easily with particle
kinematics. The goal is to calculate the initial vehicle
velocity prior to brake application while knowing the AV
and the braking deceleration level. The analysis is as
follows:
ds
v=
dt
dv
a=
dt
:. vdv = ads
Vmpnct
I
vdv =askid ds
5
vinitial
si
z&act
=vJ citial + 2a,, (s  s, >
viniti*l = VZnpac*  2as
J
(32)
In Equation (32) the acceleration can be input as a
negative value (braking). Additionally, if one assumes
the coefficient of restitution to be zero, then the final
velocity (impact into the wall), is also the AV. While not
precisely correct, this assumption is widely used; for
higher velocity collisions, this is often well within the
uncertainty present in many reconstruction analysis.
This is because coefficient of restitution values tend to
decrease wi th i ncreasi ng seventy [Kerkhoff, 19931.
Assigning these assumptions to Equation (32), results as
follows:
a =  a
e = 0.0
190
1w AV = vimpact
(33)
As can be seen in Equation (33) when assuming a zero
restitution collision, and when there is absolutely no post
impact velocity, then the AV and the preimpact skidding
phase may be added as a sum of squares for the above
presented scenario. While this numerical value of AV is
input into Equation (33), it is important to note that the
physics dictates that the actual velocity at the end of the
skidding is what is actually being input into the above
equation. It is only because of the zero restitution
assumption, and zero post impact velocity, that the AV
also numerically equals the wall impact velocity and can
be substituted.
The pole impact reconstruction problem that arises from
the above analysis, is the assumption that, because, for
this specific scenario, the AV is added under a square
root, the AV is an energy parameter. By erroneously
assuming the AV to be an energy parameter, some
analysts have tried to assign it as an energy parameter
in other accident scenarios. As is previously discussed,
the AV is a vector and must be treated as such in any
accident reconstruction analysis. Therefore, the AV is
directly added to post impact runout vectorially and not
as a sum of squares.
To illustrate potential problems with assuming AV to be
an energy parameter, consider now the situation of a
vehicle impacting a tree in an offset impact and
experiencing post impact runout. Some analysts have
erroneously attempted to apply the previously developed
relationship to this new scenario. This new scenario is
represented by the velocity time curve in Figure 14.
Fig& 14. Velocity Time Graph  Vector Addition of
Delta V and Separation Velocity.
For the scenario demonstrated in Figure 14, the accident
reconstruction use of AV would involve first using the
post impact dynamics to calculate the separation
velocity, then vectorially adding the separation velocity to
the AV. For this situation,,one does not add the AV and
runout velocity as an addrtron of squares.
191
Vimj7act = * + Vsep*ra*ion (35)
Two primary fallacies exist when the impact velocity is
accepted to be the sum of squares of AV and separation
velocity, Equation (34). First, it is assumed that the AV
can be directly converted to absorbed energy without
having any other knowledge of the impact geometry.
This is false and is demonstrated in Equation (31) where
it is found that the AV is not only a function of the
absorbed energy but also of the impulse moment arm.
Therefore, to calculate absorbed energy from AV, the
impulse moment arm must be accounted for. Secondly,
post impact rotational energy is assumed to be zero if
the AV is combined with the separation velocity as a sum
of squares. This is addressed in the following
conservation of energy section .
CONSERVATION OF ENERGY
The addition of the squares of post impact runout and
AV has also been justified by some reconstructionists as
the method to employ when applying the conservation of
energy to a lateral pole impact collision. The attempt is
made to think of the AV as representative of absorbed
energy. This assumption is based on the fact that the
change in kinetic energy of the vehicle can be
determined from the AV and post impact runout velocity.
The fallacy with this approach is evident when examining
the plane kinematics relationships previously developed.
If there is post impact runout, then, by definition, the
impact is not a centered collision. Therefore, a moment
arm has been developed by the impulse around the
center of gravity.
35000
1
i
50 100 150 200 250 300 350 400 450
Peak Rotation (deglsec)
Figure 15. Rotational Energy
Mechanics has been shown to dictate that if there is a
AV and a moment arm, then by definition, there must be
post impact rotation developed. To ignore this post
impact rotation, is to ignore a possibly significant
contribution of energy and therefore, any calculated
speed will be incorrect. Additionally, determining the
absorbed energy from the AV requires a careful analysis
of the impact geometry.
A conservation of energy analysis is performed by
placing a control volume around the impact phase and
summing all of the energy out to arrive at the energy
coming in to the control volume. Energy to be added
generally includes vehicle deformation energy, barrier
deformation energy (if nonrigid barrier or breakaway
pole), and post impact vehicle linear and rotational
motions. The rotational components may contribute a
significant amount to the overall calculation of impact
velocity. Consider a 2500 lb vehicle (a small vehicle)
having a 100 inch wheelbase and a 50/50 weight
distribution. Considering the radius of gyration to be
approximately 50 inches, Figure 15, shows the kinetic
energy contributed by rotation at varying angular spin
rates. Figure 15 assumes the rotation to be about the
mass center of the vehicle. Since vehicles often have an
instant center of rotation away from the mass center,
these values are conservative (low) for many accidents.
As can be seen, at 150 deg/sec, this lightweight vehicle
possesses 5000 ftlb of energy. That potentionally
significant energy indicates that whenever there is post
impact rotation, the collision analyst should calculate the
rotational component in order to determine the rotational
energy contri buti on to the vel oci ty cal cul ati on.
Neglecting the rotational energy contribution may often
contribute to significant errors in a reconstruction.
CONCLUSIONS
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
Techniques are presented to predict post impact
rotational velocity. These prediction methodologies
are shown to match the reference computer
simulation (SMAC) within 10%.
Further work is necessary to investigate the
structural response of other vehicle types to high
speed lateral pole impacts.
Further work is necessary to investigate the
structural response due to hard spots and pole
diameter variations.
The small, unibody vehi cl es of different
manufacturers studied behave in a similar fashion
when subjected to high speed lateral pole impacts.
Default structural parameters as used in CRASH 3
are not appropriate for use to reconstruct individual
lateral narrow impacts.
Care should be taken when applying conservation of
energy reconstruction techniques in order to
carefully account for all energy, including that due to
rotation.
AV is a vector and should be used in reconstruction
calculations appropriately. AV is not an energy
parameter.
Care should be taken to correctly account for the
differences between local (crush zone) and center of
gravity AV.
When appl yi ng t he CRASH al gor i t hm, t he
calculation of absorbed energy should be performed
in the same manner as the structural stiffness
calculation.
When calculating the B structural stiffness parameter
with average crush, and then applying the actual
crush profile in the CRASH energy equation, over
prediction of energy occurs.
When calculating the B structural stiffness parameter
with the crush profile, and then applying the average
crush in the CRASH energy equation, under
prediction of energy occurs.
The tangential correcti on factor shoul d be
considered in the structural stiffness calculation.
Failure to consider the TCF in the structural stiffness
calculations will result in large errors in calculated
absorbed energy for oblique collisions.
CONTACT
Comments or questions are welcome and may be
directed to the authors:
KEVA Engineering
Transportation Accident Analysis and Reconstruction
5636 La Cumbre Road
Somis, California 93066
www.kevaena.com
REFERENCES
Automated Sci ences Group, NHTSA Data Tape
Reference Guide, Volume I: Vehicle Crash Tests, Office
of Vehicle Research, NHTSA, US DOT, 1985.
Bell, L., Car To Pole Side Impact Test of a 45 Degree
Crabbed Moving 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Into a Fixed
Rigid Pole at 20.1 MPH, DOT HS 840706, 1984.
Bell, L., Car To Pole Side Impact Test of a 45 Degree
Crabbed Moving 1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Into a Fixed
Rigid Pole at 24.9 MPH, DOT HS 840803, 1984.
Bell, L., Side Impact Aggressiveness Attributes: Car To
Pole Side Impact Test of a 45 Degree Crabbed Moving
1981 Volkswagen Rabbit Into a Fixed Rigid Pole at
19.95 MPH, DOT HS 806853, 1984.
Bell, L., Side impact Aggressiveness Attributes: Car To
Pole Side Impact Test of a 45 Degree Crabbed Moving
1977 Volkswagen Rabbit Into a Fixed Rigid Pole at 25.0
MPH, DOT HS 806856, 1984.
Brown, C.M., Ford Taurus Broadside Collision With a
Narrow Fixed Object FOIL Test Number: 958008,
Contract Number DTFHGI94C00008, 1996.
Brown, C.M., Ford Taurus Broadside Collision With a
Narrow Fixed Object FOIL Test Number: 95so14,
Contract Number DTFHGI 94C00008, 1996.
CRASH 3 Users Guide and Technical Manual,
Publication No. DOTHS805732, National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, Dept. of Transportation,
Washington, DC, February 1981; Revised April 1982.
EDCRASH Version 4.6 Users Manual, Engineering
, 92 Dynamics Corporation 1993.
Hargens, R.L., Day, T.D., Vehicle Crush Stiffness
Coefficients for Model Years 19701984 with Damage
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Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside Impact of a
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
PB89214571, 1987.
,
Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside Impact of a
;
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
PB89214589, 1987.
Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside Impact of a
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
PB89214597, 1987.
Pole Barrier impact Into a 1987 Volkswagen Golf 3Door
Hatchback In Support of CRASH III Damage Algorithm
Reformulation, DOT HS 807 911, 1991.
Markusic, C.A., Final Report of a NonDeformable
Crabbed lmpactor into a 1988 Ford Escort 3Door
Hatchback in Support of CRASH III Damage Algorithm
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McHenry, R.R., Development of a Computer Program to
Aid the investigation of Highway Accidents, Calspan
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Volume 2  Dynamics, John Wiley and Sons., New
York, NY, 1986.
SLAM for Windows, TRANTECH, 1994.
Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside Impact of a
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
PB89214605, 1987.
APPENDIX
Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside Impact of a
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
PB89214613, 1987.
Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside impact of a
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
FHWARD89094, 1987.
Hinch, J.A., Manhard, G., Stout, D., Owings, R..,
Laboratory Procedures to Determine the Breakaway
Behavior of Luminaire Supports in MiniSized Vehicle
Collisions, Volume II. Technical Report, PB87204376,
1987.
Hinch, J.A., Manhard, G., Stout, D., Owings, R..,
Laboratory Procedures to Determine the Breakaway
Behavior of Luminaire Supports in MiniSized Vehicle
Collisions, Volume III. FOIL Operation and Safety Plan,
PB87204384,1987.
Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside Impact of a
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
PB89214639, 1988.
Hinch, J.A., Stout, D., Thirty MPH Broadside Impact of a
MiniSized Vehicle and A Breakaway Luminaire Support,
PB89214647, 1988.
Kerkhoff, J.F., Husher, S.E., Varat, M.S., Busenga, A.M.,
Hamilton, K., An Investigation into Vehicle Frontal
Impact Stiffness, BEV and Repeated Testing for
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1993.
Markusic, C.A., Final Report of 270 Degree Moving Pole
Barrier Impact Into a 1986 Ford Escort 3Door
Hatchback in Support of CRASH III Damage Algorithm
Reformulation, DOT HS 807 776, 1991.
The following are crush profiles or vehicle impact photos,
as available, to graphically demonstrate the associated
deformation patterns.
10
L,d
IO
I__ ,., 2d _
OD,.~~4~.1.~(.~~11...L.~~~~oo~..
Figure Al _ Ford Escort crush profile
at bumper height (DOT HS 807 776,34).
Figure A2. Ford Escort crush profile
at bumper height (DOT HS 807 776,44).
Markusic, C.A., Final Report of a 315 Degree Moving
193