Characteristics of Frontal Crashes with Serious Injuries and Airbag Non-deployment 2010-01-1048
The objective of the present study is to develop a better understanding of the reasons for airbag non-deployment in frontal crashes that produce serious injuries. The FARS data shows an increasing trend of fatal crashes involving airbag non-deployment with a higher fatality risk in recent model year vehicles. The reported number of fatalities in such crashes has increased by about 50 percent (from 500 per year to 780 per year) in the last five years. The percentage of fatalities with non-deployments has doubled in vehicles model year 1998 and later compared to earlier model years. Multiple impacts contribute to about 90 percent of the FARS frontal crashes with non-deployments. Crashes with a curb hit or guardrail impact as the first harmful event and a narrow impact crash with a tree or pole as a subsequent harmful event is the most frequent crash scenario in non-deployment related fatal crashes. The NASS-CDS analysis of frontal crashes with non-deployment and serious injuries revealed that for the un-weighted sample of crashes, about 27 percent may be related to multiple impacts. A common example is a curb or guardrail hit followed by pole impact. Most of these crashes experienced a second impact with Delta-V higher than 20mph. In such a crash, the air bag deployment would be expected to benefit the occupant.
Based on these findings, it is proposed to develop testing techniques to check the airbag deployment requirements in multiple impact crashes. Introducing a breakaway pole before the barrier may simulate the effects of pre-impacts like curb hits or guardrail impacts prior to main impact. It is anticipated that this test will encourage improvements in the airbag deployment algorithm which could possibly reduce the frequency of non-deployment in injury producing multiple impacts.