Airbag Effectiveness in Real World Crashes
This paper presents results from a sample of 383 belted drivers and 129 belted front seat passengers involved in frontal crashes. Of the drivers 253 vehicles were involved in crashes where the airbag deployed and 130 vehicles were non-airbag equipped. For the front seat passengers, 28 vehicles were also equipped with passenger airbags, with 25 deployed in crashes. The two groups were matched in terms of crash severity. Vehicles were inspected and occupants interviewed according to the National Accident Sampling System (NASS). Analysis of the data identified an overall reduction in the number of injuries sustained by drivers in the airbag-equipped vehicles for all frontal crashes. At the more serious injury levels (AIS 2+), reductions were noted to the head, face neck and chest in drivers in airbag equipped vehicles. Cost analysis using Harm as an outcome measure found that the mean Harm per driver ($AUD) was 60% higher in non-airbag equipped vehicles compared with airbag equipped vehicles. It would appear from these findings that airbags in frontal crashes are contributing to the reduction in driver injuries and also cost to society. Airbags in Australia act as supplementary restraint systems and were introduced to prevent head strikes to the steering wheel by belted drivers. However these findings suggest that airbags also seem to have a positive affect on protecting the chest and neck from injury. This study is the most extensive study of airbag performance in Australia to date.