1997-02-24

Injury Risks in Cars with Different Air Bag Deployment Rates 970491

Automobile insurance claims of two popular midsize cars with different air bag deployment frequencies -- the Dodge/Plymouth Neon and Honda Civic -- were examined to determine performance in higher severity crashes (the upper 30 percent of crashes ranked by adjusted repair cost). Previously, it was found that drivers sustained more, mainly minor, injuries in the Neon which had a higher deployment frequency in low speed crashes. This study examined, for these two cars, whether there was any trade-off associated with a higher deployment threshold. It was found that even at higher speeds, the Neon had a greater frequency of air bag deployments, which in turn resulted in a greater likelihood of driver injury. Once again upper extremity injuries were most prevalent for Neon drivers and were highest for female drivers. At the same time, there was little evidence that driver protection was compromised in the Civic in the more important high speed crashes. The limited evidence from this study suggests that efforts should be made to reduce the number of air bag deployments in low speed crashes.

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