Behind the scenes of crash tests

These weekly articles on traffic law and safety often use information provided by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the institution that crash tests new vehicles and rate them for safety. It is likely safe to say that most drivers are at least somewhat familiar with the institute’s work, as automobile manufacturers that receive a “superior” rating often use the good news in their advertising.

However, it’s a good bet that most people have very little or even no understanding what goes into preparing a vehicle before it is crashed into a barrier in an IIHS crash test. In the Dec. 30, 2013 issue of “Status Report,” the IIHS reveals how engineers at the Institute’s Vehicle Research Center attend to every detail to ensure a smooth crash test, with results that can be easily measured and compared with other vehicles. Everything from the exact position of the seats to the angles of in-vehicle cameras and lights must be adjusted. Fluids are drained from the car, and gasoline is replaced with a purple-dyed solvent to detect leaks.

A new Web video, “Inside IIHS: Preparing for a Crash Test,” takes viewers through the complex process. The video, just under five minutes in length, is available on the IIHS YouTube channel at: and is part of the “Inside IIHS” series. Previous installments have focused on different types of crash tests, crash test dummies, the propulsion system used to power the tests and the Institute’s booster seat rating program.

I have visited this web site and found the video on preparing vehicles for crash testing very interesting. There are a number of other short videos on the benefits of anti-lock braking on motorcycles to the IIHS’s 2014 top safety picks to a head-on crash test between a 1959 Chevrolet Bel Air and a 2009 Chevrolet Malibu – you might be very surprised as to which vehicle came out the best. I highly recommend you take a few minutes time to visit this IIHS website and play some of the available videos. You won’t regret it.

For more articles on Vehicle and Traffic Law and traffic safety, visit the Traffic Safety Board’s website at and click on the Traffic Safety Board from the pull-down menu under departments. “Like” us on Facebook as well.