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Federal Highway Administration Laboratory Receives ISO Accreditation for Quality and Consistency

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The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory (FOIL) at the Turner-Fairbank Highway Research Center (TFHRC) recently received ISO:17025 certification. Known as the world’s largest developer and publisher of international standards, International Organization for Standardization (ISO) accreditation is the main standard used by testing and calibration laboratories to show that they can produce consistently valid results and that they have a documented quality management system.

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition from an external agency testifying to the quality and consistency of the work our scientists do at the Federal Outdoor Impact Laboratory,” said Monique Evans, Director of Safety Research and Development at TFHRC. “As a government agency responsible for establishing policies ensuring the safety of the motoring public, we have always held ourselves accountable to high standards, but now we can show that others also recognize the quality.”

The assessment, conducted August 2-3, 2011, by an external accrediting agency, included a review of reference materials to ensure that set policies for testing are developed. The laboratory also was assessed for its testing and reporting capabilities. During this period, the laboratory conducted a full-scale vehicle crash test on a 2006 Kia Rio four-door sedan. To collect data on the vehicle’s crush characteristics, the laboratory used an unmanned external propulsion system to accelerate the vehicle to 50 km/hour for its impact with an instrumented rigid pole.

“Most of the time, we test roadside hardware to help improve safety on America’s roadways,” said Eduardo Arispe, operations research analyst for FOIL. “We are looking at things a vehicle might hit on a roadway to see if there are better ways to keep drivers safe, which is to say, we’re working toward zero deaths. We also look for ways to minimize injuries to drivers, and damages to vehicles and highway infrastructure in the event of a crash. Our research is primarily done to establish the set of criteria that roadside hardware has to meet.”

The new accreditation allows users of FOIL and FOIL data to have confidence in the quality of the results.

“Our customers are primarily FHWA and other government agencies,” said Arispe. “With this rigorous accreditation, all our customers can compare our research data and use them in their analyses with a level of experimental confidence—knowing they have good information. That allows them to focus on the business of product and process improvement.”

Watch the videos of the August 3, 2011, crash test on the FHWA YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbsesrgoxnE. Data from the crash test will be used to develop frontal crush criteria for a bogie (reusable) test vehicle appropriate for use under the new Manual for Assessing Safety Hardware (MASH) test regime. The bogie vehicle will reduce the cost of FOIL tests by allowing reuse of the test vehicle without compromising data quality.

For more information, contact Eduardo Arispe at 202-493-3291.

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