Crashworthiness is effectively a packaging problem with death, brain damage and quadriplegia as likely outcomes. In a 1952 paper, Hugh DeHaven outlined the following fundamental principles of vehicle crashworthiness and occupant crash protection design. The occupant compartment of a vehicle should retain its basic integrity or “survival space.” Specifically,

  • The package (passenger compartment) should not collapse under expected conditions of force, thereby exposing its contents (occupants) to damage,

  • The package should resist, cushion, and/or distribute impact forces, thereby protecting the contents,

  • The package contents should be tied to the structure, and

  • The windows and openings should have a barrier to ejection.


  • Rollover Crashworthiness and Countermeasures

    For the past 20 years, CfIR's focus has been on rollover crashworthiness and occupant safety. Using accepted scientific methodology, our crashworthiness research has included:

  • 1. Quasistatic Roof Strength Fixture Design and Testing (FMVSS 216, M216)

  • 2. Dynamic Rollover Fixture Design and Testing of Dummy-Occupied Vehicles (Drop, JRS 2003, JRS II 2011, Nash Carousel)

  • 3. Countermeasures (HALO device)

  • 4. Briefings and NHTSA Docket Submissions


  • The Minicars RSV

    In 1968, the Minicars group of the General Motors Research Laboratories developed prototype gas, electric,and hybrid electric powered versions of a small car for the U.S. government. In 1970, as a subcontractor to AMF, MInicars developed its Experimental Safety Vehicle.

    The Minicars' Research Safety Vehicle (RSV) was conceived in 1975 as a 1985 S3E prototype vehicle: Safe, Environmental, Efficient and Economical. The original gas-powered version was built with foam-filled, thin-wall sheet metal sections and a polyurethane skin. Testing confirmed that the RSV passively protected occupants in 80 kph (50 mph) full frontal, 129 kph (80 mph) half-car offset frontal, 64 kph (40 mph) angled side, rear and 48 kph (30 mph) rollover dynamic tests. The electronic version incorporated antilock brakes, radar separation cruise control, and emergency braking when a crash was unavoidable. The production version was designed to weigh 2,200 pounds, carry four people, achieve 32 mpg with 16 kph (10 mph) frontal and rear no-damage bumpers and 80 km (50 mile) run flat tires.

    Years later, advanced air bags, as featured in the Minicars RSV, became standard equipment in all passenger vehicles and saved lives in all crash modes.