1998-02-23

Frontal Air Bag Deployment in Side Crashes 980910

NHTSA conducted seventy-six side impact FMVSS No. 214 compliance tests from 1994 through 1997. The compliance tests are nearly right angle side impacts with low longitudinal components of change of velocity (Δv). Frontal air bag deployments were found to have occurred for 34% of the driver bags and 32% of the front passenger bags in these compliance-tested passenger cars.
In 1997, NHTSA began testing passenger cars 'in side impact in the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP). The NCAP crash tests are conducted at a higher speed than the compliance tests. The cars in the NCAP side impact tests also had low longitudinal components of Δv. Approximately 40% of the twenty-six passenger cars tested in the 1997 Side Impact NCAP had their frontal air bags deploy.
Real world crash data were examined to determine if frontal air bags are deploying in right angle side impacts on the roads of the US. A study of the 1988 - 1996 National Automotive Sampling System (NASS) data, where all cars involved in the crash had a driver air bag and the component of this crash was at three o'clock, reveals that 16% of frontal air bags deployed. The same study reveals 22% of the frontal air bags deployed during left side impacts in the nine o'clock direction in towaway crashes.

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