Glenbrook South Year-End Projects
Auto Collisions and Auto
Basic Research Questions
Your role as researcher for this project involves acquiring a
wealth of technical information about the efforts of accident
reconstructionists, safety administrators, and automobile designers
to reduce collision frequency and insure vehicle safety. The process
of conducting a literature search should yield some basic information
about the physics which underlies traffic reconstruction and
automobile safety devices. Some basic topics for research and
ultimate discussion have been listed below to assist you in the
initial stages of your literature search. The role of this listing is
to provide an initial framework for your literature search and not a
conclusive list of topics to be discussed. Your group is expected to
go beyond these topics, exploring diverse areas of individual
interest about sight and sound in nature.
- Discuss Newton's three laws and make efforts to apply each
individual law to phenomena experienced in an automobile accident.
- Combine Newton's second law of motion and kinematic equations
to make predictions about the factors which effect the amount of
stopping distance needed by a car in order to avoid accidents.
- Use free-body diagram analyses to describe the forces acting
upon cars prior to a collision and during collisions.
- Define and distinguish between elastic and inelastic
collisions and relate such terms to automobile collisions.
- Define impulse and momentum and use the impulse-momentum
change theorem to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze
- Explain the law of momentum conservation and use it to perform
mathematical analyses of collisions.
- Describe how the vector nature of momentum can be used to
mathematically analyze right-angle ninelastic collisions.
- Describe the motion characteristics of projectiles and use
kinematic equations and projectile principles to calculate the
range of an airborne vehicle, passenger, or other object which
results from an automobile collision.
- Use the work equation and the work energy-theorem to explain
the role of crumple zones and chassis deformation in a collision
and explain how measurements of the amount of chassis deformation
can be used to make estimates of pre-collision speeds of vehicles.
- Define torque and rotation and explain how rotational
principles can be used to analyze automobile accidents.
- Explain what an accident reconstructionist is and describe the
types of problems which they attempt to solve.
- Describe the methods used, the questions asked, and the
information sought by accident reconstructionists in order to
reconstruct an accident.
- Give concrete examples of how an accident reconstructionist
uses accident scene measurements and information to determine
pre-collision motion characteristics of colliding automobiles.
- Identify a few safety devices used in automobiles and use
diagrams and words to explain the underlying science.
Automobile Collisions and
Automobile Safety Project
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This page last updated on 2/20/98.