Project: Airbags for European Cars

Reference: S081F/VF

Last update: 04/12/2003 08:36:27

Objectives

This project was designed to provide information on the performance of airbags generally and also to gather information on the experience with airbag performance in the UK.

Description

In Europe, there are no requirements for airbags to be fitted, but they are increasingly being fitted to some vehicles in some markets for marketing reasons. There are no regulatory requirements for airbags in Europe. Neither are there any requirements on the performance of airbags that are fitted voluntarily. In Europe the principle restraint system is the seat belt and high wearing rates have been achieved in the UK and many other countries. Airbags are therefore optimised to work with restrained occupants, unlike the US where the primary requirement is to work in the FMVSS 208 test with unrestrained dummies. As a result, two types of airbag have emerged in Europe, the standard US size and the smaller Eurobag. This project was designed to provide information on the performance of airbags generally and also to gather information on the experience with airbag performance in the UK. This was achieved in three ways:
* a survey of all published research papers on airbags;
* an analysis of UK accidents involving cars fitted with airbags; and
* comparative tests with airbags and out-of-position occupants using dummies.

Considerable information has been gained from the paper reviews, much of which is relevant to the European situation.

Contractor(s)

TRL Limited
Crowthorne House, Nine Mile Ride, Wokingham, Berkshire, RG40 3GA
+44 (0)1344 773131

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £262,000.00

Actual start date: 01 May 1993

Actual completion date: 31 May 1996

Summary of results

  1. Trends are apparent from the accident data, although the sample sizes are still too small for these to be statistically significant. The dummy tests indicate clear differences between the two types of airbags.