Insurance Institute of Highway Safety
How cars crash could save your life
Page 1: Intro
There is no sound at that moment when a car collides. The point of impact is a pause, followed by the scream of shattering glass and corkscrewed metal. It is a space, a held breath, a second when there is nothing but the deep inhale of air between two onrushing objects. Strange things happen in the space when cars collide. And no one can ever know everything that happens when hell is loose and the glass breaks. It is, perhaps, the purest form of chaos, and measuring that chaos is what the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety does. Tucked away in the hills of Virginia, the Institute's VRC -- Vehicle Research Center -- is where they examine that pause, reproduce it, watch it and measure it until they know everything possible about what can happen when a real accident occurs. Their goal is to reduce injuries and improve vehicle safety, and since the VRC opened in 1992 the Insurance Institute has had a strong role in instrumented crash tests and component testing.