This content is not included in your SAE MOBILUS subscription, or you are not logged in.

Passenger Vehicle Response to Low-Speed Impacts Involving a Tractor-Semitrailer

Journal Article
ISSN: 1946-3995, e-ISSN: 1946-4002
Published April 12, 2011 by SAE International in United States
Passenger Vehicle Response to Low-Speed Impacts Involving a Tractor-Semitrailer
Citation: Fittanto, D., Bare, C., Smith, J., and Mkandawire, C., "Passenger Vehicle Response to Low-Speed Impacts Involving a Tractor-Semitrailer," SAE Int. J. Passeng. Cars – Mech. Syst. 4(1):304-331, 2011,
Language: English


Low-speed sideswipe collisions between tractor-semitrailers and passenger vehicles can result in large movements and extensive areas of visible damage to the passenger vehicle. However, depending on the specifics of the collision, the resulting crash pulse may be extended, and the vehicle accelerations correspondingly low. Research regarding the impact environment and resulting injury potential of the occupants during these types of impacts is limited. Five full-scale crash tests utilizing a tractor-semitrailer and a passenger car were conducted to explore vehicle responses during these types of collisions for both the passenger car and the tractor-trailer. The test vehicles included a loaded van semitrailer pulled by a tractor and three identical mid-sized sedans. Instrumentation on the sedans included accelerometers and rotational rate sensors, and the vehicle and occupant kinematics were recorded using onboard and off-board real-time and high-speed video cameras. The test series included four sideswipe impacts, involving extended contact between the semitrailer bottom rail (lower longitudinal structure of the trailer box) and dual wheels and the side of the sedans. A single perpendicular collision involving the semitrailer dual wheels and the right front corner of the sedan was also conducted.
The extended duration crash pulses in the sideswipe tests resulted in relatively low magnitude vehicle accelerations. Specific vehicle component interactions were studied for their effect on the vehicle response. The matrix of test conditions was designed to allow comparison and assessment of vehicle and occupant response under a variety of circumstances, including a comparison of near-side and far-side occupant responses, a comparison of vehicle and occupant responses based upon the initial impact location on the sedan, and a comparison of vehicle and occupant responses with the sedan brakes applied against the responses with the brakes released. The 90-degree impact test provided a shorter duration impact to be compared against the sideswipe test.