Guidelines for Verification and Validation of Crash Simulations Used in Roadside Safety Applications

Crash simulations using finite element (FE) analysis are being used to design and help evaluate the safety performance of roadside safety hardware and features. Roadside safety crash simulations involve developing FE models of vehicles and roadside appurtenances and using these models to simulate the vehicles impacting the appurtenances. Use of simulation has progressed from modeling crash tests, to supporting hardware design decisions, and to providing guidance for roadside hardware placement. Effective use of simulation permits design optimization and minimizes the number of crash tests required to achieve acceptable impact performance, thus reducing both the development cost and installed cost of roadside hardware. Additionally, simulation provides a tool for assessing the performance limits of roadside hardware under conditions that cannot be readily tested with full-scale vehicles, such as sideways vehicle impacts and hardware installed on non-level terrain. Historically, the safety performance of roadside safety hardware has been evaluated through full-scale vehicular crash testing. The testing process is typically iterative as design weaknesses and flaws are sequentially discovered and corrected. This type of physical experimentation is expensive and time consuming. Additionally, full-scale crash testing is often required to approve modifications to roadside safety devices that have already been fully crash tested. Crash simulation has the potential to be used for approval of design modifications. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is beginning to consider acceptance of simulation in lieu of full-scale crash tests in approving some modifications to roadside safety systems. However, there are no comprehensive and objective procedures for verification and validation of crash simulations. Verification and validation procedures have been developed for FE models in other disciplines (e.g., weapons systems, space crafts, and nuclear waste packaging). Sandia National Laboratories has developed a Phenomena Identification and Ranking Table. The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics has published a Guide to Verification and Validation of Computational Fluid Dynamics Simulations (G-077-1998). The American Society of Mechanical Engineers has established a committee (PTC 60) on Verification and Validation in Computational Solid Mechanics. Although the verification and validation procedures mentioned above may be applicable to crash testing, there are many modeling issues that are unique to the roadside safety field. Particularly relevant to this project are the ongoing activities of the recently established Computational Mechanics/Europe (CM/E) group. CM/E, which exists under the auspices of the European Committee for Standardization (CEN), is engaged in defining simulation reporting procedures, defining objective validation procedures, defining requirements for vehicle and barrier models, and defining analyst competency criteria. The objective of this research is to develop guidelines for verification and validation of detailed finite element analysis for crash simulations of roadside safety features. The focus of these guidelines will be on establishing accuracy, credibility, and confidence in the results of crash test simulations intended (1) to support policy decisions and (2) to be used for approval of design modifications to roadside safety devices that were originally approved with full-scale crash testing.


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  • Status: Completed
  • Funding: $300000.00
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project 22-24

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Highway Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590

    American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

    444 North Capitol Street, NW, Suite 225
    Washington, DC  United States  20001

    National Cooperative Highway Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC  United States  20001
  • Project Managers:

    Niessner, Charles

  • Performing Organizations:

    Worcester Polytechnic Institute

    100 Institute Road
    Worcester, MA  United States  01609-2280
  • Principal Investigators:

    Ray, Malcolm

  • Start Date: 20070405
  • Expected Completion Date: 0
  • Actual Completion Date: 20110131
  • Source Data: RiP Project 11838

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01548859
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: National Cooperative Highway Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project 22-24
  • Files: RIP
  • Created Date: Dec 28 2014 1:00AM