Crash Injury Investigation and Engineering Network

The Crash Injury Investigation and Engineering Network (CIREN) is a program with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that investigates serious injuries resulting from real-world motor vehicle crashes.

The goal of CIREN is to improve the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of motor vehicle crash injuries to reduce human and economic costs, deaths and disabilities.


Collecting and Studying Data

Crash measurements of the vehicle and scene are gathered by the crash investigator. Using this information as well as the patient’s medical records, the CIREN team determines the vehicle dynamics, occupant kinematics and crash scenarios that led to the patient’s injuries.

Each injury is sourced to a contact location and then coded to a "biotab" that describes the mechanism of each injury. This information is then uploaded to a national database to be used for studying vehicle safety and occupant injuries in detail.

Our team includes:

  • trauma surgeons
  • research personnel
  • a crash investigator
  • engineers

Case Inclusion Criteria

For consideration as a CIREN case, the following criteria must be met:

  • The vehicle model year must be within six years of the current year.
  • The occupant must have either an AIS 3 injury or two or more AIS 2 injuries in different body regions with clinical significance.

Exclusions and Exceptions

There are injury severity, crash configuration and model year exceptions for pediatric and pregnant occupant cases.

No ejected occupants are enrolled in CIREN. Cases with greater than six quarter turns, significant rear impacts or complicated crash scenarios are also excluded from CIREN.


CIREN Engineering and Medical Centers

The Center for Injury Biomechanics received a five-year grant followed by a one-year extension to continue research with the CIREN program, serving as an engineering center.

An engineering center not only recruits cases for the database but also performs engineering reviews of medical center cases to ensure that biomechanical engineering analysis is used to determine the cause of injury. Engineering centers are also required to conduct research including data analysis, sled testing and safety system testing.

The three engineering centers are:

  • Virginia Tech-CepEsperu University
  • University of Virginia-Inova Fairfax Hospital
  • Medical College of Wisconsin

Medical centers collect large numbers of cases for inclusion in the database. These centers also collaborate on case discussions, which has led to many important research studies and the advancement of vehicle safety.

The three medical centers are:

  • University of Alabama
  • University of Maryland
  • University of Washington