While this Corvair crash test video may look cool, crash testing has come a long ways since its humble beginnings. When automakers began crash testing, often humans were used in the car to see how they responded to the crashes. Eventually, someone decided this wasn’t such a good idea; and rightfully so. Too many people were getting either hurt or killed as a result of the mangled steel and shattered glass.
As technology made its’ advances, so did crash testing. Manufacturers began performing tests without humans in them. However, there were still no set standards for the end result. Enter 1970. With the passing of the Highway Safety Act of 1970, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (or as we know it: NHTSA) was born.
Responsible for collecting crash test information from automakers as well as other tasks (such as fuel economy and theft resistance), this department of the government is the one automakers answer to when it comes to safety standards of vehicles sold in the United States.
Since their inception, automotive safety has dramatically increased and set standards have been put into place regarding crash testing. Some of the standards of crash tests put in place by the NHTSA now include frontal-impacts, side impacts, offset crash tests, and rollover testing.
These tests are also now performed with crash test dummies loaded with thousands of sensors to record information that takes place during the test process. So the next time you’re involved in an automotive accident and you are able to walk away safely, remember to thank the NHTSA.