Frontal Impact Crash Test Change Shifts Damage Areas in Vehicle Extrication

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has changed testing in regards to frontal impact.  The IIHS has now reduced the strike area on a frontal impact test from 40% to 25% overlap (this simulates striking a pole or tree). The crash force now bypasses the frontal crumple zone leading to greater damage to the passenger cell. It can also move the steering wheel towards the center of the vehicle, which reduces, if not totally removes, the effectiveness of the driver’s airbag.

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Because of this new testing we are already starting to see changes in vehicle design and metals used in the frame, door and foot area of many models. One of the more significant things we are seeing is an increase in the metal strength around the bottom hinge into the rocker panel.

This is a common area for many fire fighters to make relief cuts when preforming a “Dash Roll” or Dash Jack” during extrication. You may need an alternative method when dealing with new cars because of the added strength in this area. We suggest moving the relief cuts to the area between the hinges. The reinforcement behind each hinge will help reduce the likelihood of the post tearing away.

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The ideal spot to cut, if available is were the wire harness hole is located (see yellow circles). This area reduces the amount of metal you have to cut and when looking to preform a dash jack, it provides a insertion spot for the spreader tips. Make a cut on both sides of the hole by sticking one tip of your cutter into the hole, and the other tip around the lower A post.