Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UGa Report Disputes Safety Record of Airbags; A Statistician Using Different Data Found "There Was No Benefit to Having Airbags at All."

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

UGa Report Disputes Safety Record of Airbags; A Statistician Using Different Data Found "There Was No Benefit to Having Airbags at All."

Article excerpt

Byline: JENNIFER MOORE

ATHENS -- Airbags don't have any safety benefit and can actually increase the probability of death in low-speed collisions, according to a study by a University of Georgia statistician.

Using a different set of data than has previously been used in such studies, UGa statistics professor Mary Meyer found that airbags may not have the safety benefits they are touted for.

"What I found was there was no benefit to having airbags at all," Meyer said. "I was very surprised."

The study, published in Chance magazine, suggests airbags do not reduce the odds of death in high-speed collisions and increase the risk of death in low-speed collisions.

The data contradict previous studies, Meyer said, partly because prior reports are limited to frontal collisions because airbags are designed for frontal wrecks.

"It turns out that in non-frontal collisions, the risk [of death] is higher when the airbag deploys if [drivers and passengers] are not wearing seat belts," she said.

The idea for the study started with graduate student Tremika Finney and Meyer looking at National Highway Transportation Safety Administration data to determine whether airbags are more dangerous for women than for men, because the bags are designed for an average-sized man.

When they examined the NHTSA data, Meyer said, they found that 238 deaths have been attributed to airbags from 1990 to 2003, all in low-speed crashes.

"But my thinking is," Meyer said, "it's not reasonable to think this is the only situation in which airbags could kill people, but if the crash is high-speed, [the death] can be attributed to the crash."

However, Meyer said she's convinced that seat belts reduce deaths "by a tremendous amount."

The analysis found that proper use of a seat belt reduces the odds of death by 67 percent for any given speed category and airbag availability.

And that can lead to confusion about airbag safety, Meyer said, because motorists who have airbags are much more likely to wear seat belts. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.