Evaluation of the Certified-Advanced Air Bags

The purpose of this report is to analyze the changes and redesigns of frontal air bags and their effect on occupant protection in frontal crashes. Frontal air bags have gone through a series of changes in response to amendments to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 208, “Occupant crash protection.” In 1998-1999, vehicle manufacturers were permitted to sled test in lieu of a barrier impact to certify that the air bags would protect an unbelted occupant (“sled certification”), which allowed air bags to be redesigned by depowering and/or reducing the volume or rearward extent of air bags. Then in 2003-2006, air bags were required to not deploy at all for children or deploy only at a low level of force (“certified-advanced air bags”). Most manufacturers chose to not deploy air bags at all for children, using occupant detection sensors to suppress the air bags. Statistical analyses of crash data from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA’s) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and R.L. Polk’s National Vehicle Population Profile (NVPP) compare fatality risk with certified-advanced and sled-certified air bags. Fatality risk in frontal crashes was 4 percent lower for drivers with certified-advanced air bags than with sled-certified air bags; for right-front passengers, it was 2 percent higher; at neither position is the difference between certified-advanced and sled-certified air bags statistically significant. The fatality rate, in frontal crashes per billion vehicle registration years showed a 4 percent reduction overall, 5 percent reduction for drivers, and 5 percent reduction for child right-front passengers 12 and younger, after vehicles were equipped with certified-advanced air bags. None of these were statistically significant. Overall, the analysis found no evidence that certified-advanced air bags result in higher fatality risk to front-seat occupants in frontal crashes when compared to sled-certified air bags.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Technical Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 36p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01497282
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: DOT HS 811 834
  • Created Date: Oct 30 2013 4:03PM