The Physics of Car Crashes: Experimental Write Up

Acceleration Crumple zone Impact (mechanics)


The aim of this experiment is to determine the most effective way of preventing injuries during car crashes through simulation of an actual crash.


Australian statistics show that in 1993, 1956 people died and 22154 people were admitted to hospital from motor vehicle accidents. This trend has continued until the present date and is costing us not only in lives but money too. Australia spent $6.1 billion dollars as a result of motor vehicle accidents in 1993.

Deaths from motor vehicle traffic accidents have declined from 27 per 100,000 population in 1973 to 11 in 1993. The introduction of compulsory seat belt legislation has played a major role in reducing the motor vehicle traffic accident death rate. However, motor vehicle accidents remain one of the main preventable causes of death in Australia. This shows the importance of researching and developing safety features on road vehicles. Australia simply does not have to lose this many lives and this amount of money on something that can be so easily prevented.

Developing safety features requires basic knowledge of physics so I will explain some key terms in this experiment;


This is an influence on an object, tending to produce a change in movement, shape or other effects. Force can be calculated by multiplying the mass of an object (in kilograms) by it's acceleration (in metres per second per second). It is commonly written as F=ma. In this experiment, the force at which the car hits the wall must try to be reduced by simulating safety features.


This is the rate of speed of an action or occurrence. Velocity indicates both speed and the direction in which the object is traveling. It can be calculated by dividing the distance travelled (in metres) by the time it took to reach that distance (in seconds). It is commonly written as v = s/t. In this experiment, the car's velocity will have to decrease in order to decrease the force of the impact.

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