Tests Show Increased Use of Side Airbags Can Reduce Fatalities

December 15, 2000

Crash tests conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety on vehicles with side airbags show that a great number of the approximately 10,000 Americans killed in side-impact collisions could be saved if the safety devices were installed in more cars and trucks.

According to a Reuter’s report, the test also revealed that individuals that are hit on the side by SUVs or pickup trucks are especially vulnerable to head injuries due to the height of the hoods of such high-riding vehicles. In tests of other vehicles, the institute found that side airbags can prevent head injuries from trucks’ hoods or poles impacting those vehicles from the side.

It was noted that even at a low speed of 18 miles per hour, a side-impact crash into a tree, telephone pole or other rigid object can kill the occupants of a vehicle that is not equipped with side airbags.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has estimated of the nearly 32,000 deaths on U.S. highways in 1999, approximately one-third resulted from side impacts. Trees or poles were involved in 38 percent of all deaths from single vehicle side impacts.

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