1998-02-23

Does Stature Influence Driver Injuries in Airbag Deployment Crashes? -- Analysis of UMTRI Crash Investigations 980640

At the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute (UMTRI), 763 crashes involving steering wheel airbag deployments have been investigated in detail (as of 12/1/97). A subset of only frontal crashes, in which the steering wheel airbag deployed, and stature was known, was formed (636 drivers). In these crashes there were 201 “short” stature drivers, 165 cm or less in height (32% of all drivers). The vast majority of all drivers were lap-shoulder belted. Of these drivers, 69% sustained no injuries or an AIS-1 level injury. Of the shorter drivers there were 40 MAIS-2 level injuries and 15 who survived with an MAIS injury level of 3, 4, or 5. These higher level injuries were usually found in only one body area. Details of the injury locations and contacts are presented. Data on the taller drivers (435) were similarly tabulated. Of the taller drivers (> 168 cm), 74% had a MAIS-0 or 1 level injury. Of taller drivers with the MAIS-3, 4 or 5 injuries, the majority (70%) had such injuries unrelated to the deployment of the airbag. Of all the MAIS-2+ injured drivers, short or tall, 57% had such injuries unrelated to airbag deployments. The lower extremity was the body area most often involved, followed by the brain and upper extremity injuries.

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