How Crash Tests Ensure Driver Safety

      March 13, 2009 07:29

      Is it better for the safety of driver and passengers if a car is hardly damaged in an accident? "In a low-speed crash, vehicles that are barely damaged are definitely good ones, but in a high-speed crash, easily damaged cars are the good ones," says Park Jin-ho, a senior researcher at the Korea Automobile Insurance Repair Research and Training Center in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province.

      In a high-speed crash, to protect the driver and passengers from injury, the engine room or bonnet at the front of the vehicle should absorb the shock. Hence good cars are susceptible to damage. "Good cars are easily damaged because they distribute crash forces by crumpling the frontal body structure so passengers to feel less of the impact," he said.

      Crash tests are divided into high-speed test at the speed of 64 km/h and a low-speed crash test at 15 km/h. In the former, injuries to the driver and passengers are measured, while the latter with little chance of human injury evaluates damage to the car.

      The high-speed test uses crash test dummies to assess the effects of impact on passengers. Sensors are positioned on up to 96 parts including head, neck, chest, abdomen, pelvis and shins to measure the impact. "Looking at the image of a crash test, people often think the car is too good to be thrown away," Park said. "But in fact most domestically-manufactured cars are worth only some tens of millions won, but a dummy costs around W100 million (US$1=W1,450)."

      After the test, the dummies are repaired for reuse and the tested cars are put up for auction after repairs. If damaged too severely, the vehicle is displayed at the research center.

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