Purpose and Objectives

Road transport deaths and injuries have been a byproduct of increased motorisation since the introduction of the motor car; but had gone largely unnoticed by policymakers until the 1960s. In 1966, the United States Congress enacted the Highway Safety and the Motor Vehicle Safety Acts, and established a federal Department of Transportation to implement the standards and regulations which followed from those laws.

Later in 1968, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) appointed a research group on road safety made up of representatives from Belgium, Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. The group’s report, “Biomechanics of Automobile Accidents”, published in October 1969, proposed five co-operative programmes. As a first step to implementation of these programmes, an international survey found that research in biomechanics was ongoing in several countries around the world, especially in Europe and the United States.

Therefore, a small group of researchers from different European countries agreed to combine two programmes: one on accident biomechanics and the other on human tolerance to impact, into the science of the kinematics of impact injuries. These deliberations resulted in the formation of the International Research Committee on the Biokinetics of Impact (IRCOBI) under the leadership of Prof. Bertil Aldman who chaired IRCOBI for almost 20 years. In 1992, this group changed its name to the International Research Council on Biomechanics of Impact to reflect more accurately its overall mission, and finally to the International Research Council on Biomechanics of Injury in 2007.


In discussions in 1971, IRCOBI concluded that an international conference in Europe to review the current knowledge on biomechanics was desirable for several reasons. First, the main event in this field up to that time, the Stapp Car Crash Conference, was economically out of reach for Europeans, especially young researchers, on an annual basis. Second, road transport casualty problems in Europe were similar but not identical to those in the United States and were rapidly increasing with advancing motorisation in Europe.

Since 1973, IRCOBI has been conducting an annual international scientific conference in Europe to review new knowledge on human tolerance to impact as gleaned from field accident studies, experimental research and experience from current occupant protection systems and devices. It has also sponsored specialised conferences and seminars on such topics as trauma to children, two wheel vehicle users and pedestrian protection. The peer-reviewed proceedings of these various meetings are now recognized internationally as an important source of knowledge on impact biomechanics and crash injury studies.

From the beginning, this group devoted itself to several missions:
  • To encourage research on impact biomechanics and injury mechanisms.
  • To provide a forum for the presentation and dissemination of these research findings.
  • To serve as an advisory body on issues relating to impact biomechanics and injury mechanisms.
  • To foster and encourage young researchers in the field.
  • To improve the scientific basis on which safety and crashworthiness standards are formulated.