Date of Thesis

Spring 2012


Previous research conducted in the late 1980’s suggested that vehicle impacts following an initial barrier collision increase severe occupant injury risk. Now over twenty-five years old, the data used in the previous research is no longer representative of the currently installed barriers or US vehicle fleet. The purpose of this study is to provide a present-day assessment of secondary collisions and to determine if full-scale barrier crash testing criteria provide an indication of secondary collision risk for real-world barrier crashes. The analysis included 1,383 (596,331 weighted) real-world barrier midsection impacts selected from thirteen years (1997-2009) of in-depth crash data available through the National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) / Crashworthiness Data System (CDS). For each suitable case, the scene diagram and available scene photographs were used to determine roadside and barrier specific variables not available in NASS/CDS. Binary logistic regression models were developed for second event occurrence and resulting driver injury. Barrier lateral stiffness, post-impact vehicle trajectory, vehicle type, and pre-impact tracking conditions were found to be statistically significant contributors toward secondary event occurrence. The presence of a second event was found to increase the likelihood of a serious driver injury by a factor of seven compared to cases with no second event present. Twenty-four full-scale crash test reports were obtained for common non-proprietary US barriers, and the risk of secondary collisions was determined using recommended evaluation criteria from NCHRP Report 350. It was found that the NCHRP Report 350 exit angle criterion alone was not sufficient to predict second collision occurrence for real-world barrier crashes.


Secondary Collisions, Secondary Impacts, Longitudinal Barriers, Roadside Safety, Full-Scale Crash Test, Crash Test Criteria, Injury Severity

Access Type

Masters Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)

Degree Type

Master of Science in Civil Engineering


Civil and Environmental Engineering

First Advisor

Douglas J. Gabauer