The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has identified vehicle compatibility as one of its five priorities. One important component of vehicle compatibility in head-on and side impact crashes is vehicle aggressiveness. Aggressivity of a vehicle is defined as the fatality or injury risk for occupants of other vehicles with which it collides. More aggressive vehicles are more likely to produce serious injuries to occupants of the vehicles with which they collide than less aggressive vehicles. NHTSA has studied the variation in vehicle aggressiveness for over twenty five years. One recent effort using police reported crashes to understand vehicle aggressiveness was contained in the technical report “Vehicle Weight, Fatality Risk, and Crash Compatibility” by Kahane. This paper aims to validate the compatibility findings of Kahane’s report by including additional years of crash data and by employing a different methodology.
Vehicle aggressiveness is determined using five years of police reported crashes from seven states in NHTSA’s State Data System (SDS). The injury status of drivers in head-on crashes between a light truck or van (LTV) and a passenger car and in nearside crashes where a passenger car was struck on the left (driver’s) side by another light duty vehicle are examined separately. The results demonstrate the relationship between a vehicle’s aggressiveness and its body style, mass, and other physical characteristics. The robustness of the results is tested using controls for driver and crash characteristics. For the most part, the results confirm the importance of physical characteristics for understanding vehicle aggresiveness measured from police reported crashes.