Driver air bag effectiveness by severity of the crash

M. Segui-Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives. This analysis provided effectiveness estimates of the driver-side air bag while controlling for severity of the crash and other potential confounders. Methods. Data were from the National Automotive Sampling System (1993-1996). Injury severity was described on the basis of the Abbreviated Injury Scale, Injury Severity Score, Functional Capacity Index, and survival. Ordinal, linear, and logistic multivariate regression methods were used. Results. Air bag deployment in frontal or near-frontal crashes decreases the probability of having severe and fatal injuries (e.g., Abbreviated Injury Scale score of 4-6), including those causing a long-lasting high degree of functional limitation. However, air bag deployment in low-severity crashes increases the probability that a driver (particularly a woman) will sustain injuries of Abbreviated Injury Scale level 1 to 3. Air bag deployment exerts a net injurious effect in low-severity crashes and a net protective effect in high-severity crashes. The level of crash severity at which air bags are protective is higher for female than for male drivers. Conclusions. Air bag improvement should minimize the injuries induced by their deployment. One possibility is to raise their deployment level so that they deploy only in more severe crashes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1575-1581
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2000

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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