According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s latest compiled traffic safety statistics, 32,885 people died as a result of motor vehicle crashes in the U.S. in 2010, while more than 2 million were injured.

The good news is that the number of people being killed in car crashes is actually dropping – to lower than it’s ever been since the NHTSA started keeping track in 1975. Part of the reduction and continually growing safety awareness can be attributed to the Center for Applied Biomechanics in the University of Virginia’s School of Engineering and Applied Science. It’s where crash survival becomes a science.

As the largest university-based injury biomechanics laboratory in the world, the center specializes in impact biomechanics for injury prevention. Started by NHTSA back in 1989, the center now operates out of a 30,000-square-foot facility located in the University of Virginia Research Park. It is recognized as one of the world’s leading research groups in the field, using state-of-the-art equipment to analyze the intricacies of how the human body responds to injury.

"We study how the body behaves under impact circumstances," said center director Jason Kerrigan, who’s also an Associate Professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.  "When research we’ve done gets implemented and injury countermeasures continue to increase, the number of lives being saved adds up as time grows. We see where these changes make a real difference."


The mission of the Center for Applied Biomechanics is to improve the quality of life through the mitigation and prevention of injury made possible by better understanding the mechanical response of the human body, and to provide the highest quality education and training to our students.

To fulfill this mission, we:

  • Partner with research leaders in industry, academia and the government
  • Conduct multi-disciplinary experimental, computational and analytical research
  • Engage engineering students in all aspects of our work


The Center for Applied Biomechanics will be the world leader in injury biomechanics research by:

  • Conducting innovative and multi-disciplinary collaborations with research leaders in academia, industry, and the government
  • Pursuing the emerging questions in the field
  • Performing fundamental and pioneering research
  • Influencing the field with definitive presentations and publications
  • Maintaining world class capabilities and research facilities
  • Providing an energized learning and working environment that encourages creative problem solving