Understanding The NHTSA’s New Small Overlap Test


Most car manufacturers have made vehicles much safer and have given cars the ability to withstand certain crashes without causing injury to a driver or passenger. This is due to stricter NHTSA tests. Research has proven that small overlap crashes account for a significant amount of frontal crash injuries. To try and prevent these situations, the NHTSA is developing a new small overlap test to gauge a new car’s safety credentials.


Small overlap crashes occur when there is damage to the main longitudinal of the vehicle. The small overlap test will create a situation where the corner of a car’s bumper hits another object at a great deal of force. This will place a high level of strain on all vehicles being tested.


These tests are conducted on a car’s outer edges. This part of a car is not usually placed into the spotlight during traditional crash tests. This leaves passengers and drivers vulnerable to injury. The edges of a car are not normally protected by a crush zone. A frontal crash will affect the front wheel, firewall and suspension system. It is quite common for the wheel to be forced into the footwell and lead to serious foot or leg injuries. In order to protect a person during a small overlap crash, the safety cage must be able to resist these heavy forces. It may be necessary to widen the car’s front end as well.


Creating new crash tests will address the fact that small overlap crashes are extremely dangerous. The industry is now using more stringent criteria to include a small overlap frontal test to its long list of evaluations. In the end, auto manufacturers will recognize the dangers posed from this type of crash and will plan new structural changes to heighten protection. This means that new cars will be safer than ever.