Injuries sustained by drivers in airbag crashes

The William Lehman Injury Research Center has conducted multiple investigations of fifty crashes involving drivers where an air bag deployed. In all cases, serious injuries were suspected. Eleven cases involved fatal injuries. While these cases are not representative of crashes in general, when used in conjunction with National Accident Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS/CDS) they provide insight into the most severe injuries in crashes of vehicles equipped with air bags. A comparison with data from the NASS/CDS shows that head injury and abdominal injury make up a larger fraction in the Lehman data than in NASS/CDS. Examination of fatal cases indicates that head injuries are frequently caused by an intruding structure or by unfavorable occupant kinematics among the unrestrained population. The more precise injury examination provided to patents admitted to a Level I Trauma Center may contribute to the higher proportion of abdominal injuries observed at the Lehman Center. Serious upper extremity injuries are rare in the Lehman data but contribute a large harm fraction in NASS/CDS. Both NASS/CDS and Lehman data indicate that lower extremity injuries are an increasing harm factor among occupants in severe crashes. The Lehman data suggests that air bags are remarkably effective in high severity frontal crashes; however, in some rare events, the protection at low crash severity may be less than without the air bag.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 1570-7
  • Monograph Title: The Fifteenth International Technical Conference on Enhanced Safety of Vehicles, Melbourne, Australia, 13-16 May 1996
  • Serial:
    • Issue Number: DOT HS 808 465

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01398653
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Aug 23 2012 6:02PM