IIHS logoThe Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has released a new video that shows how it photographs its crash tests, as Andrei Needle writes for CarScoops. The crash test chamber it uses for the tests is “basically just a giant photo/video studio,” he writes. The Institute relies on special lights and high-speed video cameras to capture the crashes on video, Pini Kalnite, IIHS’s vice president of media operations and production, says in the video.

In the video, “Inside IIHS: Crash Test Photography” (which you can see below), the IIHS does offset frontal tests (in which only one side of the front of a vehicle hits the test barrier), as compared with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s New Car Assessment Program frontal test (in which vehicles are crashed at 35 miles per hour into a rigid barrier that encompasses the full width of the vehicle), as Brian Harper reports for Driving. “An offset test is more demanding of a vehicle’s structure than a full-width test, while a full-width test is more demanding of safety belts and airbags,” he adds. IIHS says that the two tests together provide a more complete assessment of a vehicle’s ability to withstand a frontal crash than either one test would be itself, Harper writes. As to the benefits of crash testing, he writes:

Safety ratings aren’t sexy. They don’t provide the same warm and fuzzy feeling as when shopping for a new vehicle based on looks, horsepower, price or fuel economy. But, after watching a high-speed crash in real time, even if it’s “just a test,” sometimes the “what if” becomes a sobering reminder of what’s really important.

The video is part of the IIHS’s “Inside IIHS” series. Previous videos have covered crash test dummies and vehicle prep, the Institute’s booster seat rating program, and how the Institute is addressing the problem of truck underride, according to an IIHS press release.

In another new video in the series,“Inside IIHS: Research,” Institute researchers explain how they use crash databases and experiments in studying road features, driver behavior, and vehicle safety features, according to an IIHS press release. In that video, Anne T. McCartt, the IIHS’s Senior Vice President for Research, says the Institute looks at driver behavior, pedestrians, vehicle safety, and road safety — for example, how safe roundabouts are. In vehicle safety, the IIHS has studied side airbags, front airbags, and electronic stability control, she says. “It’s hard to think of an important highway safety issue we haven’t studied,” she says.

The wide range of backgrounds among the researchers at IIHS allows the Institute to look at many dimensions of problems, McCartt says. Also appearing in the video are Wen Hu, research transportation engineer, who works to improve traffic movement and safety; Ian Reagan, senior research scientist, who specializes in how humans interact with vehicles; and Eric Tech, a senior statistician who looks for patterns in real-world data to answer research questions (for example defective anti-lock braking systems on fatal motorcycle accidents).

You can see the Crash Test Photography Video here:

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