Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 208 combines a nationwide effort to increase belt use through state belt laws, enforcement and education, and a requirement that automatic occupant protection, such as air bags or automatic belts, be phased into passenger cars (1987-90) and light trucks (1995-98). Air bags plus manual belts will be required in all cars in 1997 and light trucks in 1998. This interim report, evaluating the effectiveness of occupant protection, based on data available in May 1992, is issued in response to the exceptional public interest in the occupant protection program. Although there are not enough data for statistically significant results on every evaluation question, it is already clear that the occupant protection program is saving thousands of lives. Highlights from this report are as follows: (a) In 1983, before the occupant protection program began, national belt use was 14% and no state had belt laws. By the end of 1991, 42 states and the District of Columbia had belt laws, and belt use had climbed to 59% or more. (b) Motorized automatic shoulder belts without a disconnect feature have a use rate of 97%; motorized belts with a disconnect, 91%. The use rate for automatic non-motorized 3-point belts is 64%; for manual 3-point belts in air bag-equipped cars, 57%; and for manual belts in cars without automatic protection, 56%. (c) The high use of motorized belts, however, is partially offset by low use of the manual lap belt accompanying the motorized system: 29%. (d) Fatality risk of occupants in cars equipped with air bags plus manual belts (at 1991 use rates) is 23% lower than in "baseline" cars with manual belts at 1983 use rates. The risk in cars with motorized 2-point belts (without disconnect) is 16% lower than baseline; in cars with non-motorized 3-point automatic belts, 10% lower than baseline. All three are statistically significant fatality reductions relative to baseline, but there are not yet enough data for a definitive rank-ordering of the automatic systems. (e) The overall fatality risk in 1991 cars at 1991 belt use rates is 16% lower than the baseline of manual-belt cars at 1983 use rates, with confidnece bounds of 11 to 21%. (f) Cars equipped with motorized 2-point belts (without disconnect) have significantly lower occupant ejection rates than cars with any other type of occupant protection. Cars with automatic 3-point belts have significantly lower ejection rates than cars with manual belts. (g) Automatic occupant protection, when used, significantly reduces the risk of moderate and serious injuries.


  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Tables;
  • Pagination: 88 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00625523
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-807 843
  • Created Date: Dec 15 1993 12:00AM