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Ever wonder about vehicle crash tests and the Dummies that ride in them?

By September 23, 2019No Comments

A lot of work goes into a vehicle being prepped for a crash test. There is extreme precision used in placement of the crash dummies, sensors, cameras and more. What’s intriguing are the Dummies; what are they made of and why are they so important? It takes technicians three days to calibrate a test dummy, and there will likely be damage to the dummy after the test.

Prior to 1950’s, cadavers served as early crash dummies. Also used were pigs, rabbits, ferrets, rats and more. In 1993 animal testing was stopped first by GM and then other’s followed.


  • A crash test dummy is an anthropomorphic testing device (ATD). This is a fancy way to say that a crash dummy is a mannequin that closely imitates the size, shape, mass, stiffness and energy absorption of an actual human being.  He (or she) is then placed in the awkward position of testing vehicles for crash resilience.



  • The dummy’s skeleton consists of aluminum, rubber, and steel parts for near-real strength and sensitivity. That structure is surrounded by a layer of urethane-foam flesh and pliable vinyl skin. The shell’s design has evolved considering NHTSA data on post-impact positioning and variations in physique. IIHS uses dummies that represent the 5th, 50th, and 95th percentile American adult. The small dummy is five feet tall and 110 pounds, and the large dummy is six feet, two inches and weighs 223 pounds.


Crash dummies simulate the human body, including different types of clothing. They have “bones”, neck, flexible spine design and more. There are different style Dummies to simulate human body size, position and crash types. Without these, there would be no way to continuously improve in vehicle safety.  Want to know more? Simulate Human Injuries



  • a typical crash dummy can cost well over $600,000 (shipping is extra!)
  • crash dummies are getting fatter, in direct response to the actual size of trauma patients
  • in the early days, human volunteers served as crash dummies
  • the average crash dummy can have up to 80 sensors
  • a sophisticated crash dummy may record and transmit up to 10,000 bits of data every second
  • Air Force Maj. J. P. Stapp propelled himself over 630 mph on a rocket sled and stopped in less than a second
  • after every crash performed, there is going to be a good chance that the crash test dummy will need repairs
  • the next generation of crash test dummies will likely perform their tasks entirely on a computer screen


Want a history on Crash Test Dummies, visit here  History of Crash Dummies