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# Crash severity calculations

## STAIRS - Work Package 1.iv

Version 5

Prepared by:

R. Ross
J. Lenard
B. Hurley
P. Thomas
D. Otte
G. Vallet

December 1998
1. COLLISION SEVERITY AS A FUNDAMENTAL CRASH PARAMETER ........................................... 3

2. THEORETICAL CONSIDERATIONS:.................................................................................................... 3

3.DELTA-V: ................................................................................................................................................... 4

## 4. EES - ENERGY EQUIVALENT SPEED: ................................................................................................. 8

5. PRACTICAL RESTRICTIONS............................................................................................................... 12

## 5.1. DEFINITION PROBLEMS......................................................................................................................... 12

5.2. METHODOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES.......................................................................................................... 12
5.3. ACCURACY OF MEASUREMENTS AND METHODS ..................................................................................... 13
5.4. MISSING VALUES ................................................................................................................................. 13

## 6. POSSIBILITIES AND LIMITATIONS OF THE ESTIMATION METHOD FOR THE

DETERMINATION OF COLLISION SPEED IN CAR PEDESTRIAN ACCIDENTS............................. 15

6.1. ANALYSIS AND ASSESSMENT OF THE BODY MOTION DURING THE CRASH ................................................. 15
6.2. MATHEMATICAL / PHYSICAL CALCULATION OF SPEED............................................................................ 16
1. Collision severity as a fundamental crash parameter

Collision severity is a measure of the violence of the crash and is usually measured in terms
of the speed change of either vehicle during the crash or the amount of energy dissipated in
the crush. It is a measure describing a fundamental crash parameter. For example it is
impossible to compare the relative performance of two safety systems if it is not known that
the two groups were exposed to crashes of similar severities - if they were different then the
lower speed group would be expected to result in fewer severe injuries. The measurement of
collision severity is an essential measurement but there are a number of practical difficulties
in making an accurate assessment to give comparable results between various data samples.

2. Theoretical considerations:

Within the current area of vehicle safety research there is discussion surrounding crash
severity and the most appropriate methodology to use in its calculation. Many of the problems
associated with these conflicts rest upon the misunderstandings surrounding them. Within in-
depth research there are two widely accepted practical calculations for crash severity in use:
• ∆V (Delta V),
• EES (Energy Equivalent Speed).

The explanation of these two methods are underpinned by classical Newtonian mechanics and
general reconstruction principles from widely used computer programs.
3. ∆V - Delta-V:

## ∆V = Vt2 - Vt1 (2.1)

It has both direction and magnitude and is therefore a vector. The draft International standard
(ISO/DIS 12353-1:1996(E)) defines it as the:

## “Vector difference between impact velocity and separation velocity.”

This means the change in velocity over the impact phase (from the point in time when the
vehicles start exerting a force on each other, to the point in time when the resultant force is
negligible or equal to that of the frictional forces of the system).

In order to calculate this quantity, all the energy dissipated within the system investigated is
required to be known. For the purposes of crash investigation this would mean the details
from all vehicles involved in the collision. Delta-V cannot be calculated from the details of
part of the system (i.e. from only one vehicle).

Example 1:
a - Pre-impact b - Impact

V2
M2
M2
V2i

M1
V1
M1
V1i
V1f

M1

M2
V2f
c - Post impact phase (immediately after separation).

For example 1

## ∆V for vehicle 1 = V1f - V1i (2.2)

∆V for vehicle 2 = V2f - V2 i (2.3)

In crash investigation there is currently no method of always knowing the pre- and post-
velocities of the vehicles involved at the actual time of the crash. However, there are methods
of calculating the change in velocity using two basic methodologies. One we will call work
energy analysis and the other deformation energy analysis.

The work energy analysis method utilises trajectory data and is based on work-energy
relationships and the principal of conservation of linear momentum. Most of this type of
information is ‘volatile’ and has to be collected at the scene (skid marks on the road surface
and debris that can indicate the point of contact) so that the vehicle direction and point of
impact can be measured as accurately as possible.
The other method mainly used is deformation energy analysis. For this type of calculation the
principals are based on:

1. Conservation of energy

## ½ m1v1i2 + ½ m2v2i2 = ½ m1v1f2 + ½ m2v2f2 + Edeformation (2.5)

2. Conservation of momentum

## m1v1i + m2v2i = m1v1f + m2 v2f (2.6).

3. Vehicle damage

Both methods use a set of assumptions within their calculations based on vehicle crash testing
under laboratory conditions (stiffness) or field testing (road friction).
work energy analysis methodologies use the work energy dissipation due to friction (using the
length of residual skid marks), pre- and post-crash trajectories and the distance travelled to
rest to make their ∆V calculations, but can also use the deformation of the vehicles as an
adjunct to this. The deformation energy analysis method uses vehicle deformations only (i.e.
the deformations from all vehicles involved in the collision).

In order to calculate ∆V using the retrospective method it is accepted that the change in
kinetic energy is equal to the energy dissipated by the crashed vehicles i.e. the ‘energy of
deformation’. The energy of deformation is based on crash tests that provide vehicle damage
profiles from a known velocity and direction. Consequently, any crash configurations that are
not complimentary to the tests, cannot be compared. It is also assumed that the contacting
surfaces of the crash partners reach a common velocity during the crash phase. Some
configurations are non-complimentary, and are therefore excluded from ∆V calculations using
this methodology (see example 2).This includes ‘side-swipes’ and ‘glance-off’ collisions
where very little of the vehicle is involved in contact with a crash partner and ‘non-horizontal’
crashes or rollovers.
Example 2

V2
M1 M1
V1
M2 M2
V1 V2
a - Pre-impact b - Post-impact (No common velocity reached)
4. EES - Energy Equivalent Speed:

The current draft International Standard definition of this term (ISO/DIS 12353-1:1996(E))
is:

“The equivalent speed at which a particular vehicle would need to contact any fixed
rigid object in order to dissipate the deformation energy corresponding to the observed
vehicle residual crush.”

No direction is assigned to this quantity and it is therefore a scalar. The calculation for EES
is:

## E(deformation) = ½ m (EES)2 (3.1)

(where m is the mass of the vehicle)

For example, for a given damaged vehicle whose energy of deformation was known or
considered to be 50,000 J, and which has a mass of 1,000 kg:

Edef = ½ m(EES)2
50,000 = ½ . 1,000 . (EES)2
→ EES = 10 m/s (36 km/h)

The link between Edef (or EES) and crush may be obtained from crash tests in a similar way to
∆V. Other methods used to calculate EES are: energy grids, approximation equations or
damaged based algorithms. EES can work with partial information from the crash (i.e. the
damage profile from one vehicle only) as it is only a measure of the energy dissipated by that
vehicle.

The results of EES can be misleading if you consider that a small change in velocity at high
speed can have the same kinetic energy dissipated as that of a large change at low speeds:
Kinetic energy
1400

1200

1000
∆KE2 800

600

400

200

∆KE1 0
Velocity
0 10 20 30 40 50

∆V ∆V
Example 3+

In example 3, a change in velocity from 30 m/s to 10 m/s (i.e. a change of 20 m/s), does not
give the same outcome as a calculation based on an initial velocity of 20 m/s to rest.
Although both ranges have a difference of 20 m/s, the calculations are:

## 1.For initial velocity 50 m/s to final velocity of 30 m/s,

E = ½ mv2
∆KE = ½ m (502 - 302)
= 800 x mass

## 2.For initial velocity of 20km/h to final velocity of 0km/h,

E = ½ mv2
∆KE = ½ m (202 - 02)
= 200 x mass

This example shows that comparable changes in initial and final velocities do not equate to a
comparable ∆V i.e. ∆V1 = ∆V2 but ∆KE1 ≠ ∆KE2
There is a further measure that is sometimes used in crash reconstruction called ETS
(Equivalent Test Speed). It involves both magnitude and direction and is therefore a vector. It
uses only part of the information from a crash system (i.e. details from only one of the
vehicles involved) and is therefore not as useful as the previous measures. It assumes that the
crash is an impact into a solid, immovable barrier. However, ETS does not assume that the
vehicle comes to rest and can take into account a final velocity of more than 0 km/h. The
crash is of an appropriate configuration in order to approximate the observed damage seen on
the subject vehicle.

## In certain circumstances ETS can be the same as EES, for example:

1. Impact against a narrow object along vehicle centre line (in line with centre of mass)

## Vehicle width = 160 cm

Vehicle mass = 1000 kg
Field width = 40 cms
Crush = 200 cms
Field offset = 0 cms

Results:
Delta V (ETS) = 95.9 km/h
Energy = 354400.9 Nm
EES (from energy) = 95.8 km/h

Here, due to the impact being along the line of the centre of mass the vehicle will come to rest
and therefore the results are the same (the slight discrepancy is due to the barrier being
assigned a finite mass in the Crash 3 program).
2. Impact against a narrow object on edge of vehicle

## Vehicle width = 160 cm

Vehicle mass = 1000 kg
Field width = 40 cms
Crush = 200 cms
Field offset = 60 cms

Results:
Delta V (ETS) = 88.7 km/h
Energy = 354400.9 Nm
EES (from energy) = 95.8 km/h

This example gives a lower ETS due to the fact that “spin-off” would occur (i.e. final velocity

≠ 0) within this configuration. It also highlights EES as being ‘crush energy’ (not velocity)
orientated.
5. Practical restrictions

## 5.1. Definition Problems

The two most commonly used measures of collision severity are Energy Equivalent Speed
(EES) and speed change during the crash phase (delta-v). As has been shown they are not the
same but measure different aspects of the collision severity. Broadly speaking delta-v is an
indication of the acceleration experienced by car occupants while EES assesses the work done
in crushing the car structure.

Understanding is complicated by the two values often but not always being similar. Under
some circumstances they take the same value but they can also be radically different. One
common confusion is when to use each measure analytically and there is a need to clarify this
use so that all groups use the most appropriate measure for the analysis.

## 5.2. Methodological differences

A second difficulty arises when different methods are used to estimate a measure. For
example delta-v can be calculated on the basis of the difference between the approach and exit
velocities of a vehicle into and out of a crash, it can also be estimated using the deformation
of all the vehicles. In theory the two methods should give exactly the same result however
differences in the calculation method can give slightly different estimates. For example some
methods of calculating delta-V include rebound velocity (which is a consequence of the
elastic properties of the material) while others exclude it. EES can be calculated using a
variety of methods - computer software can estimate the deformation energy directly, accident
damaged vehicles can be compared photographically with crash tested vehicles, special
software can compare measurements of the damage with equivalent measures of crash test
vehicles. These methods are chosen usually because of restrictions in the opportunities to
collect relevant data concerning the crash. There are subtle differences between these methods
that can result in very real effects when the results are applied to the development of suitable
crash test procedures to reproduce the crash severity. There is a need to assess the importance
of these effects and to establish that in practise each of the methods really does give
comparable estimates of the key parameters.
5.3. Accuracy of measurements and methods

In practise all methods used to estimate delta-v and EES have a limited accuracy that further
clouds the degree of comparability. They are based on physical measures that all have a
measurement error (length of skid marks, depth of crush etc). Many of the methods include
approximations and extrapolations that increase the degree of uncertainty. Delta-v
calculations based on skid marks and residual environmental data are sometimes considered
to be very close to the fundamental physics of the system and therefore have a very small
error. However uncertainty in the practical application (e.g. determination of collision point
or rest position of pedestrian) can introduce error and this frequently is not assessed when
the estimates are employed analytically. Damage based methods often used the US CRASH
3 software package or one of its derivatives, this system includes a number of assumptions
of the stiffness of cars in the US which may not apply to the European fleet.

A search of published literature shows that CRASH 3 is often considered to give an accuracy
of ±10% while the accuracy of on-scene methods is not reported. Frequently one data
collection team will employ a number of methods to calculate collision severity for as many
cases as possible but all of the values will be combined so that it is not possible to assess the
resulting accuracy on the basis of other research.

There is a need to assess the accuracy of each of the commonly used method of measuring
collision severity both under experimental and under real-world conditions. The implications
of combining different methods needs to be understood better and it is likely that new
methods are needed to calculate the values to a much greater accuracy.

## 5.4. Missing Values

All of the available methods have restrictions in their applicability. Scene based methods of
calculating delta-v can only be used when there is sufficient information available to provide
the necessary inputs. Photographic and software based methods of calculating EES can only
be used when there are appropriate crash test data available. CRASH 3 assumes that a
common velocity has been reached during the collision phase. There are many frontal and
side collisions in the real-world that do not comply with these assumptions, there are many
other collisions, particularly rollovers for which no method is available. The result of these
restrictions is that most datasets have many collision severity estimates missing and over 50%
of cases will have an unknown severity. The practical and theoretical restrictions may mean
that there is some bias in these estimates and typically the higher speed crashes may be under-
represented (e.g. it may not be possible to use damage based methods for crashes involving
gross structural deformation such as high speed truck crashes).

There is a need to assess the implications of these missing values and any biases and to
develop better methods to calculate delta-v in a wider variety of real-world collisions. Even
advanced methods, such as the use of crash pulse recorders, will have restrictions in the
applicability to the range of crashes in the real world. Development is needed to find the most
appropriate ways to collect and analyse this data.
6. Possibilities and Limitations of the Estimation Method for the
Determination of Collision Speed in Car Pedestrian Accidents

## A pedestrian is a multipex mass body system of various heights. Therefore it is difficult to

reconstruct its motion during a collision with a vehicle that can be seen as a one mass body,
but with various body shapes.

Two different steps are required for the process of determination of collision speed and later
on for the driving speed.

6.1. Analysis and assessment of the body motion during the crash

## Within the framework of accident documentation, various information concerning vehicle

deformations, accident traces and injuries are available. For the explanation of injury
mechanisms and biomechanics it is important to know the mechanisms under which the
injuries occurred. These injuries must correlate to the different impact points on the vehicle as
well as on road surface.

Many accident investigations have been carried out world wide, all of these deliver
information about the relationship between speed and injury occurrence. On the other hand
crash tests with dummies were carried out in the past, measuring speed related throwing
distances of pedestrians and showing other aspects of the kinematics like scooped-up
distances and the motion of the body with rotation influence. These relationships and other
details can be used for the assessment of the speed.
6.2. Mathematical / physical calculation of speed

As the rule the speed at the time of the collision is calculated by a backward analysis from the
final position to the point of collision via the existing traces. All procedures of the process are
shown in figure 1. If the length of braking marks is known and an assessment of the point of
collision can be made the collision speed is calculated with the following simplified formula

vc = vc' ⋅ mR
with
mc + m p
vc' = 2 ⋅ a ⋅ s and mR =
mc

Definitions:

## vc = collision speed [m/s]

vc' = speed at end of collision [m/s]
a = mean deceleration [m/s²]
s = distance impact point to final position of car [m]
mR = mass ratio
mc = mass of car [kg]
m p = mass of pedestrian [kg]

Such a result, however, cannot be regarded as complete, in view of the fact that the driving
speed is an interesting parameter for the forensic experts. This is calculated when further
traces, i.e. braking, drifting and slinging traces, prior to the collision phase are known, which
would permit a further speed evaluation.
Determination of Collision Speed of Cars / Trucks
in Pedestrian Accidents
vehicle person object

## skidmarks scooped-up distance throwing distance gliding distance traces

EKin = Ework
1
⋅ m ⋅ vc2 = m ⋅ µ ⋅ g ⋅ s ------------------------------------------ empirical----------------------------------------------------------------------------
2
vc' = 2 ⋅ a ⋅ s crash test results
mass relation: accident analysis
mveh ⋅ vc = mveh ⋅ vc + m ped ⋅ vc
' '

mveh + m ped
vc = ⋅ vc'
mveh

assessment process
criteria:
minimal overlapping of speed range

collision speed