Head and chest injury outcomes in struck side crashes

This study examines injury outcomes for front seat passengers of European passenger cars in struck-side crashes. The UK National Accident Database (STATS 19) and UK In-depth Accident Database (CCIS) were analysed to determine how injury outcomes have changed between two distinct sets of vehicles; older cars manufactured pre 1993 and newer cars manufactured post 1998. Overall trends in injury outcome are reported with comparisons made to outcomes in frontal and non struck-side impact crashes. More detailed results relating specifically to head and chest injury outcome are given. Additionally an assessment of the performance of side airbags is made. In general, improvements in the killed and seriously injured (KSI) rates for struck-side occupants are observed in newer cars compared with older vehicles and when fatalities are considered the greatest improvement is seen in the reduction of mAIS (i.e. highest AIS injury) 4+ chest injuries. However, when side airbags are considered, the rate of serious chest injury is higher in the sample of cars with side airbag deployment (25.0%) than the sample of cars with no side airbag deployment (10.2%). Of these serious chest injuries the rate of multiple rib fracture on the struck-side is almost double in cases where a side airbag has deployed compared with when no side airbag has deployed. Regulation seems to have been effective in reducing the rate of KSI injury outcome in struck-side crashes with slight benefits in terms of head injury mitigation and more apparent benefits in terms of chest injury mitigation. There are however some preliminary contrary indications regarding the benefits of the side airbag which may indicate a problem with out-of-position occupants.