As the driver of this car was turning left out of a parking lot, she was struck by an approaching SUV. The impact was severe, and vehicle damage was extensive. However, the driver escaped unscathed. She didn’t even seek medical attention. A likely reason was the side airbag that cushioned her head, chest, and abdomen during the collision. These are reducing driver deaths in cars struck on the near (driver) side by an estimated 37 percent. Airbags that protect the torso (chest and abdomen) but not the head, are reducing deaths by 26 percent, a new Institute study has found. The study expands and updates a 2003 assessment of side airbag effectiveness (see Status Report, Aug. 26, 2003; on the web at iihs.org).
The new study marks the first time researchers have had sufficient data to compute fatality risk reductions for drivers of SUVs. The risk reductions for these drivers are 52 percent with side airbags that protect the head and 30 percent with torso only side airbags.
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