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Crash Cushion Investigation

Submitted by PocketLab on Thu, 06/01/2017 - 18:01


Nearly 1.3 million people die from car accidents worldwide each year, according to the World Health Organization. In order to reduce traffic fatalities high-speed roadways must be made safer. Building crash cushions along highways that reduce the impact force experienced by the passengers of the car in a crash can save lives. But how should these cushions be built?

You are part of a team of engineers that works for the Department of Highway Safety. Your team’s job is to find ways to make roadways safer for drivers and passengers. An interchange was recently built that connects the two largest highways in your state. At one of the interchange off-ramps, there is a dangerous wall between the highway and the off-ramp. If a driver accidentally crashes into the wall they would be seriously hurt or even killed. Your team must design a cushion that will be placed in front of the wall to reduce the force felt by the passengers if a car were to crash into the wall. Your design will help save lives.


Using the available supplies, build a crash cushion that will reduce the force experienced by the cart as it crashes into the wall. You must build at least three models for Cushion A and Cushion B. You will test each model with your lab group by collecting acceleration data with PocketLab. Using the data collected from your crash cushion models, you will then draw a conclusion about how to design optimal crash cushions to prevent traffi c fatalities.

Download PDF for complete lab activity.

Cart with PocketLab and Crash Cushion