Vehicle Frontal Crash Occupant Safety and CAE

Car companies and suppliers continue to develop new technologies that make vehicles safer and regulatory agencies continue to update safety regulations based on new research studies, making vehicle safety design more and more complex. This seminar covers the mechanics of frontal crashes and how vehicle structures, vehicle restraint systems, and vehicle interiors affect occupant safety. It also describes details of how CAE tools work in the simulation of frontal crashes. The goal of the course is to familiarize participants with engineering principles behind vehicle and restraint designs for occupant safety. Accident crash statistics, biomechanics, government regulations and public domain frontal safety tests will be reviewed briefly. Students will also be exposed to Madymo, one of the major occupant CAE tools. The basic inner workings of the tool, such as rigid body dynamics, joints, contact, airbag and seatbelt modeling, and modeling techniques will be shared with the class. The class also offers participants opportunities to do hands-on computer analysis as well as simplified hands-on crash tests, where students can learn first-hand how vehicle pulses and restraint design affect occupant response. A camera that takes slow-motion movies at up to 1,000 frames per second is employed to capture the miniature Side Impact Crash Demo Test kit, which enables the registrants to thoroughly analyze the crash impact.

This course has been approved by the Accreditation Commission for Traffic Accident Reconstruction (ACTAR) for 12 Continuing Education Units (CEUs). Upon completion of this seminar, accredited reconstructionists should mail a copy of their course certificate and the $5 student CEU fee to ACTAR, PO Box 1493, North Platte, NE 69103.

What Will You Learn

By attending this seminar, you will be able to:
  • Explain frontal crashes and how vehicle structure and restraint systems affect occupant responses
  • Describe how restraint components function in crashes and protect occupants
  • Carry out calculations of injury metrics using test or CAE results as input
  • Describe the occupant CAE tool, Madymo, and how it works
  • Explain assumptions and limitations of CAE models
  • Evaluate the relative effect of crash pulse, and restraint system characteristics
  • Analyze and evaluate crash pulses
  • Describe FMVSS 208 and NCAP requirements and metrics
  • Explain the use of different dummies and their limitations

Is This Course For You

This course is designed for engineers who are either new to the field of automotive safety or familiar with only certain aspects of automotive safety. It can help engineers, for example, who design a specific component in a vehicle to understand how it works in vehicle crashes, how its characteristics affect occupant response and how it relates to other components in the vehicle.

Materials Provided

This data is not available at this time

Course Requirements

This data is not available at this time


  • Vehicle Crash Safety Introduction
    • U.S. crash injury and fatality data
    • Distribution of different crash types
    • Active and passive safety
  • Vehicle Frontal Crash Modes
    • Frontal rigid, offset deformable and angular barriers
    • Out of position tests, driver and passenger
    • HYGE and Servo sled tests
    • Component tests
  • Biomechanics - Human Anatomy and AIS Injury Scale
  • Brief Overview of Frontal Test Dummies and Injury Metrics
  • Frontal Crash Mechanics
    • Crash pulse, front loaded, rear loaded
    • Class Project using Excel: calculate vehicle velocity and crush from pulse; get maximum crush, time to zero velocity; pulse comparison, front-loaded and rear loaded pulses
    • Intrusions
    • Occupant to restraint gaps and restraint characteristics
    • Belted vs. unbelted occupant
    • Class project: determining occupant responses
    • Airbag quickness and stiffness
    • Belt slack, pretension, EMR
    • Class project: Determining the best restraint characteristics
    • Driver vs. passenger
    • Typical crash event
    • Class project: determining the optimal pulse shape
    • 5th percentile female submarining
  • Crash Sensor - Airbag & Pretensioner Firing & Non-firing Conditions; Sensor Tests

  • Brief Review of U.S. and European Regulations and Public Domain Safety Ratings
  • Numerical Data Processing
    • Filtering and SAE J211 guidelines
    • HIC, Nij, Cumdur, V*C calculations
    • Numerical integration, differentiation, occupant relative travel
  • Vehicle Crash Computer Modeling (CAE)
    • Vehicle structure CAE, finite element method
    • Occupant CAE, rigid body dynamics
    • CAE assumptions and limitations
  • DABLIT - Component Test for Driver Airbag
  • DOE and Optimization
  • Restraint System
    • Airbag, inflator, single & dual stage
    • Crash sensor, Restraint Control Module (RCM)
    • Seatbelt, D-rings
    • Retractors, torsion bars
    • Buckle and retractor pretensioners
    • Steering column stroke
    • Steering wheel lower and upper rims
    • Knee bolster
  • Real World Crashes - Safety for the Aging Population; Crash Severity Distribution