Airbag technology in Australian passenger cars: preliminary results from real world crash investigations

Hamish A Deery, Andrew Morris, Brian N Fildes, Stuart V Newstead

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOther


Airbags are expected to reduce vehicle occupant injuries, primarily by preventing head and chest contacts with the steering wheel and instrument panel. To date, however, there has been little evidence of airbag effectiveness in terms of field accident investigations. This paper presents some preliminary results from an ongoing case-control study of crashed vehicles equipped with Australian airbag technology (supplementary airbags in combination with seatbelt webbing clamps). Vehicles were inspected and occupants interviewed according to the National Accident Sampling System (NASS). Data were available for 140 belted drivers involved in frontal crashes (delta-V between 21 and 60 km/h), including 71 airbag and 69 control cases. Analyses revealed significant reductions in the cost of injury and a strong indication of a redaction in overall injury severity among the airbag cases. Indications of airbag benefits were also found in terms of a redaction in the probability of sustaining a moderate and severe injury. Some evidence was found for an increase in minor injuries among the airbag cases. As expected, airbag technology seems to be reducing head, face and chest injuries, particularly those of at least a moderate severity. These results are compared with recent overseas findings.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-128
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Crash Prevention and Injury Control
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1999

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