The effect of frontal airbags on belted driver injury patterns in Europe and the U.S. - where do future priorities lie?
online resourceposted on 21.03.2006, 10:55 by Richard FramptonRichard Frampton, Ruth WelshRuth Welsh, Alan KirkAlan Kirk, Raimondo Sferco, Kaye Sullivan, Paul Fay
Injury patterns by body region were compared for belted drivers who had sustained at least one moderate or greater injury (MAIS 2+ belted drivers) in airbag equipped and non-airbag cars. For airbag equipped cars, both European and US data showed about a 30% decrease in the fraction of these drivers who sustained AIS 2+ head injuries. European data found little difference in the relative frequency of AIS 2+ chest injury and cervical strain, whereas U.S. data showed a decreased frequency of AIS 2+ chest injury for MAIS 2+ belted drivers in airbag equipped cars. Both European and U.S. data show a substantially increased frequency of AIS 2+ upper limb injury for these drivers. AIS 2+ shoulder injuries contributed significantly to the increase. U.K., U.S. and German data show only a very small risk of head injury for all belted drivers in the no-deployment condition. On the other hand, European data suggests that the airbag appears to have little effect on injury outcome below 30 km/h delta v for all belted drivers. Currently, the North American experience of frontal airbag field performance is more extensive than it is in Europe. This is a consequence of their much earlier introduction into the car fleet. U.S. field studies show that airbags are effective in reducing occupant fatality by 31% in purely frontal crashes (NHTSA, 1996). Studies have also looked at effectiveness related specifically to airbag and belt combinations, belt only and airbag only.