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 Mass Transit Bus Crashworthiness I & II Minimize

Sponsor Agency: Federal Transit Administration (FTA)

Period: July 2005 - July 2008

Principal Investigator: Gerardo Olivares PhD. -

Research Team: V. Yadav, Students: A. Kumar, M. Virginia, N. Balwan, N. Pendse, Y. Jadhav, L. Boundy, S. Thokade

Project Monitor: Henry Nejako - Federal Transit Administration

Technical Monitor: John Brewer –Volpe Center


Research Overview:

Mass transportation systems and specifically bus systems are a key element of the national transportation network. Buses are one of the safest forms of transportation. Nonetheless, bus crashes resulting in occupant injuries and fatalities do occur. Therefore, crashworthiness research is a continuing effort. Using funding from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), the National Institute for Aviation Research (NIAR) is performing research to improve the crashworthiness of mass transit buses.

In order to maximize the utility of the research, NIAR reviewed statistical data describing the injuries and fatalities associated with transit bus accidents. Transit bus usage, in terms of passenger-miles, averages 20.6 billion miles per year. From 1992-2002, transit motor bus ridership has increased 11% in terms of unlinked trips. From 1990-2002, the number of transit motor buses in the U.S. has increased 30%. Clearly, transit buses are an integral part of the national transportation system.




According to the Traffic Safety Facts reports from 1999-2003, an average of 40 fatalities and 18,430 injuries of bus occupants occurred per year. The majority of fatal crashes involving buses result from frontal crashes. Bus occupant injuries are evenly distributed to crashes on all sides of the bus.

The majority of transit bus fatalities occur during the work week, in urban environments, on dry roadway surfaces under normal weather conditions. According to the ‘Buses Involved in Fatal Accidents’ reports from 1999-2001, over half of fatal transit bus involvements occur on roadways with posted speed limits of 25-35 mph. Shorter, heavy-duty, low-floor transit buses account for the majority of fatal transit bus involvements.

The primary research objectives for pahse I are: (1) characterize the structural response of mass transit buses; (2) characterize the occupant kinematics and injury mechanisms in mass transit bus interiors; (3) develop interior design guidelines and crashworthiness design procedures; for mass transit buses in order to reduce occupant injuries and fatalities during side, frontal and rear impact collisions with various vehicle types. Based on the typical crash scenarios identified in this report, a detailed FE Bus Model will be generated to extract typical crash pulses and vehicle intrusions at various occupant locations to support the research objectives.

The primary research objectives for phase II are:

·        Operator protection:

-         Evaluate operator performance for typical frontal and side impacts.

-         Asses the biomechanical performance of current two and three point restraint systems.

-         Study the benefits of implementing driver airbags or inflatable restraint systems.

·        Children protection:

-         Conduct simulation studies to asses current injury risks for children during typical frontal, side, and rear impacts.

-         Evaluate the implementation of LATCH and ISOFIX Child Restrain System attachments for children.

·        Roll-over simulation:

-         Model validation per bus procurement guidelines.

-         ECE R-66 Simulation – Structural.

-       ECE R-66 Simulation – Occupant Evaluation.




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