A crash test dummy is a full-scale anthropomorphic test device (ATD) that simulates the dimensions, weight proportions and articulation of the human body during a traffic collision. Dummies are used by researchers, automobile and aircraft manufacturers to predict the injuries a person might sustain in a crash. Modern dummies are usually instrumented to record data such as velocity of impact, crushing force, bending, folding, or torque of the body, and deceleration rates during a collision. Some dummies cost over US$400,000.
Prior to the development of crash test dummies, automobile companies tested using human cadavers, animals and live volunteers. Cadavers have been used to modify different parts of a car such as the seatbelt This type of testing may provide more realistic test results than using a dummy but it raises ethical dilemmas because human cadavers and animals are not able to consent to research studies. Animal testing is not prevalent today. Computational models of the human body are increasingly being used in the industry and research to compliment the use of dummies as virtual tools .
There is constant need for new testing because each new vehicle has a different design.