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Crash Simulation and Vehicle Dynamics Tools

Finite Element Analysis (FEA)
FEA is an efficient and cost-effective tool to assist in the design of safer highway guardrails, bridge supports, sign-posts, and other roadside structures. Roadside safety feature FEA involves analyzing the computer-simulated impact of two bodies – a model of a specific motor vehicle colliding into a model of a specific roadside safety structure. Using FEA, researchers and engineers can study the complex interactions associated with crashes in ways which are not possible using actual crash tests.

Vehicle Dynamics Analysis (VDA)
VDA, another type of digital simulation, is much less demanding of computer resources than FEA. VDA looks only at the effects of uneven terrain on the trajectory of a vehicle driving over it. For a particular median profile and barrier location, VDA can indicate whether a particular vehicle at a give speed and impact angle is likely to go over the barrier, to underride the barrier, or properly engage the barrier. For more information, contact Ken Opiela, kenneth.opiela@dot.gov.

Page last modified on October 15, 2014.
Safe Roads for a Safer Future - Investment in roadway safety saves lives
Federal Highway Administration | 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE | Washington, DC 20590 | 202-366-4000