National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

NHTSA Research and Analysis

The President's Fiscal Year 2012 budget request for NHTSA is $144.5 million. The $78.2M for Research and Analysis that includes $21.4M for Crashworthiness Research, $12.7M for Crash Avoidance Research, $42.7M for Data Programs and $1.5 M for Alternative Fuels Safety.  The request also includes $13.0M for Highway Safety Research and $53.2M for Administrative Expenses. 

Research direction and the resulting programs and projects developed are based on the safety needs identified from analysis of crash data as gathered and compiled by the National Center for Statistics and Analysis and other available data. These programs and projects serve to inform agency decision making for promulgation of FMVSS and implementation of Highway Safety Programs, as well as decision making by DOT and sister agencies. These activities are planned and implemented in close coordination with numerous DOT and other governmental agencies.

Crashworthiness Research: $21.4M

  • Applied Vehicle Safety Research programs support agency missions in Vehicle Crashworthiness Safety Systems, Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety and support for CAFE standards. Our Safety Systems research will focus on advanced restraint systems, head restraints, vehicle rollover, child restraints, frontal oblique and corner crash impact protection, motor coach ejections heavy vehicle under-ride, computer modeling of vehicle structures, and related programs. These efforts are coordinated with FHWA, FMCSA, EPA, DOE, and other government agencies.
  • Biomechanics research will continue its program to study human injury mechanisms and physical outcomes and develop anthropomorphic test devices (dummies) to support the agency's missions. Key programs include upgrade THOR dummies, develop advanced child dummies, develop the WorldSID dummy, continue CIREN center-based research, specify the detection of hypothermia and countermeasures, complete assessment of Rear Impact dummy responses, continue developing human body finite element models, developing predictive algorithms for serious injury from Advanced Crash Notification (ACN) data, and validate rotational brain injury and multi-point chest injury criteria. These efforts are coordinated efforts with international safety agencies, the automotive industry, DOD, and other government agencies.

Crash Avoidance Research: $12.7M

  • Crash Avoidance and Pneumatic Tire research includes crash avoidance technologies for light and heavy vehicles, human factors, intelligent vehicle technologies for light and heavy vehicles, and pneumatic tires. Human Factors research will focus on driver distraction, impaired drivers from alcohol and fatigue, pedestrian risks from quiet cars, and related areas. Intelligent technologies will focus on advanced driver assistance and warning systems, vehicle control, and vehicle communications. Electronic Controls reliability and Cybersecurity will be a new and additional area of focus in FY2012. This program also supports agency rulemaking on tires to improve safety and fuel economy. These efforts are coordinated with RITA, FMCSA, FHWA, DOD, and other government agencies.
  • Heavy Vehicle Research supports the Agency's rulemaking efforts by improving crash avoidance measures for heavy vehicles including braking, handling, visibility characteristics, mitigating collisions between heavy trucks and other vehicles, and improving driver performance through advanced technologies. We will continue developing test procedures for single unit and bus stability control, forward crash warning systems with active braking, and electronic vision enhancement systems. Additionally these programs support CAF efforts for heavy vehicles. These efforts are coordinated with FMCSA, EPA, and other government agencies.

Data Programs: $42.7M

  • Data programs include the Fatality analysis Reporting System (FARS), National Accident Sampling System (NASS), State Data Program, Special Crash Investigation (SCI), Data Analysis Program, Regulatory Analysis and Program Evaluations, and the National Occupant Protection Use Survey and other surveys (e.g. Not in Traffic). These data systems are the backbone of NHTSA's data driven approach to program planning, priority setting, and performance management. These data systems are used by other US DOT modes, the States for their program planning, the automotive industry, and numerous non-governmental organizations interested in traffic safety.

Alternative Fuels Vehicle Safety: $1.5M

  • Alternative Fuel Vehicle Safety research addresses the primary safety hazards and failure consequences of alternate fuels including lithium ion batteries, compressed natural gas, and hydrogen fuel cells and related technologies in motor vehicle applications. We will develop test procedures, failure criteria, conduct testing on hybrid and electric vehicles, and identify and evaluate possible mitigation technologies that address hazards from electrical isolation, chemical spill, fire, and explosion during charging and post- crash. These efforts are coordinated efforts with FMCSA, PHMSA, DOE, DOD, NASA, and other government agencies.

Highway Safety Research: $13.0M

  • Highway Safety Research directly supports the Department and Agency's goals of reducing traffic crashes, fatalities and injuries by providing the scientific basis for the development of effective countermeasures to reduce the occurrence of traffic crashes.
  • Behavioral Safety Research focuses on agency priority issues that contribute significantly to the death, injury, and property damage costs resulting from crashes on our highways.
  • These issues include: alcohol and drug impaired driving, occupant protection (seat belt use and child passenger safety), speeding, older driver safety, motorcycle safety, driver licensing, young and novice drivers, driver education, pedestrian and bicycle safety, and other unsafe driving behaviors, such as fatigued, inattentive, and distracted driving. Evaluation research documents the relative effectiveness of programs and is critical to achieving further progress and meeting national goals and performance targets.
  • Research, analysis and demonstration program results assess existing and emerging highway safety problems. NHTSA disseminates these results to the States for implementation using the highway safety formula grant (Section 402) funds.

Administrative Expenses: $53.2M

  • Administrative expenses cover all operations and maintenance cost associated with the Research, Development and Technology program at NHTSA which does not receive a separate appropriation for this purpose.


(In thousands of dollars)

FY 2012
Pres. Bud.
FY 2012
FY 2012
A. Research and Analysis 60,803 78,252 35,591 0
1. Crashworthiness 19,226 21,376 21,376 0
a. Safety Systems 8,226 8,376 8,376 0
b. Biomechanics 11,000 13,000 13,000 0
c. Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles 0 0 0 0
2. Crash Avoidance 10,219 12,715 12,715 0
Driver / Vehicle Performance 8,104 10,500 10,500 0
Heavy Vehicles 2,115 2,215 2,215 0
3. Data programs (T) 26,858 42,661 0 0
Fatal Accident Reporting System (T) 8,472 11,210 NA NA
National Accident Sampling System (NASS)(T) 12,530 19,686 NA NA
Data Analysis Program (T) 1,666 2,850 NA NA
State Data Program (T) 2,490 2,861 NA NA
Special Crash Investigations (T) 1,700 2,204 NA NA
Regulatory Analysis/Program Evaluation 0 1,050 NA NA
National Occupant Protection Use Survey & Other Surveys (T) 0 2,800 NA NA
6. Alternative Fuels Vehicle Safety (Hydrogen) 4,500 1,500 1,500 0
B. Highway Safety Research 7,541 13,049 13,049 0
C. Administrative Expenses 42,113 53,185 40,812 0
Administrative Expenses 29,351 40,812 40,812 0
Administrative Expenses (T) 12,762 12,373 NA NA
Subtotal, Research & Development 70,837 89,452 89,452 0
Subtotal, Technology Investment (T) 39,620 55,034    
Subtotal, Facilities (F) 0 0    
Total NHTSA 110,457 144,486 89,452 0