Mass Transit Bus Crashworthiness

This project represents the first attempt to measure transit bus crash dynamics and how bus design affects crash forces that cause injuries to bus occupants. The results should identify interior design choices that lessen injuries to bus occupants in crashes. The research addresses the bus transit industry needs for information about the performance of buses in crashes, including energy absorption and forces transmitted to passengers and the bus operator. This research will evaluate the crashworthiness of transit buses and will recommend interior design guidelines to decrease occupant fatalities and injuries resulting from crashes. The National Institute of Aviation Research (NIAR) at Wichita State University is performing finite-element analysis and using virtual reality simulation to describe effects of bus crashes quantitatively and graphically. NIAR then conducts sled tests using instrumented crash dummies to verify predictions based on modeling and simulation. This dual approach of modeling followed by testing provides better insight than either approach alone and focuses time-consuming and expensive sled testing on critical design elements. NIAR will provide recommendations for improved vehicle design to mitigate passenger injuries. The primary research objectives are to: (1) Characterize the structural response of mass transit buses to side, frontal and rear impact collisions with large trucks, light trucks and compact cars; (2) Characterize the occupant kinematics and injury mechanisms in mass transit bus interiors during side, frontal and rear impact collisions with large trucks, light trucks and compact cars; and, (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 large trucks, light trucks and compact cars.