Animal rights activists criticised China for its use of live pigs in car crash simulations.
Graphic photos from one of the tests surfaced online, showing a group of immature pigs strapped into car simulators for high-speed tests by China’s Research Institute for Traffic Medicine. Sensors were employed to find out the different impact forces of chest, abdomen, or diagonal belts.
15 immature pigs were used as subjects. Seven were killed instantly from the impact, while the others survived for six hours. An autopsy was then performed on all the pigs to assess their injuries.
A tweet by animal activist @aniket_anikett shows some of the images from the experiment:
No food was given to the pigs starting 24 hours before the test, and no water for six hours.
How exactly the test is performed is outlined in a study published earlier this year by the International Journal of Crashworthiness.
According to the researchers, the pigs were used because they could mimic the impacts a crash would have on the bodies of young kids: “A total of 15 whole-body sled tests were performed, for 15 immature pigs corresponding to children aged 6 years old.”
There were three different ways to restrain the 70-80 day old pigs: “Loading A, two parallel belts restraining chest and abdomen; Loading B, one diagonal belt and a lap belt; Loading C, double diagonal belts.”
“Each subject experienced one test at an impact speed of 30 or 50 km/h.”
According to the report, “All animals sustained multi-injuries” including: “abrasion, contusion, laceration, bleeding and fracture.”
Speaking to VICE over email, PETA's senior vice president of international campaigns, Jason Baker, said: "It is cruel, archaic, and unjustifiable for experimenters to continue to fasten abused, frightened animals into car seats and crash them into walls until their bodies are bloody, bruised, and mangled" especially since "sophisticated animal-free models exist."
Baker not only called out these tests for their cruelty, but also for producing inaccurate research results: "pigs and dogs are fundamentally anatomically different from humans."
"Car companies figured out years ago that these kind of experiments are worthless and tell us nothing about a human experience in a car crash."
Baker added that "clinical human studies, advanced computer modeling, 3-D medical imaging, and sophisticated manikins" are all available to car companies for car-crash research.
In the 1980s, General Motors Corporation (GM) in the US conducted similar tests on animals including mice and pigs. But after protests by animal rights activists, the company announced it would end the tests in 1993.