Project: Assessment of Airbag Effectiviness

Reference: S0011/VF

Last update: 15/08/2003 15:46:39


The project objectives are to:

* study specific accidents in which the airbag is thought to have caused, or increased the level of injury, in order to identify particular problems with either the system or method of use,
* study specific accidents in which the airbag is thought to have prevented serious or fatal injury,
* analyse a wider spectrum of accident data to determine the broader picture, including an assessment of injury reduction benefit, and
* identify areas to be targeted for future casualty reduction measures including any desirable improvements in performance or use.


Airbags are generally acknowledged to improve the protection offered to car occupants although in some accidents there have been claims that they have contributed to injuries. Specifically, babies in car seats, children and adults of short stature have been thought to be at increased risk compared to others.

This project will focus on obtaining a balanced and improved understanding of the overall benefits and risks involved with both front and side airbag deployments for a range of vehicle occupants.


ICE Ergonomics
Holywell Building, Holywell Way, Loughborough, Leicestershire, LE11 3UZ
+44 (0)1509 283300

Contract details

Cost to the Department: £68,250.00

Actual start date: 08 February 2001

Actual completion date: 31 March 2002


Assessment of Airbag Effectiveness - Overview and Results Summary
Author: Vehicle Safety Research Centre
Publication date: 18/03/2002
Source: Contact

Summary of results

  1. The main conclusions were:
    * in general, frontal airbags offer extra protection to vehicle occupants, with significant overall benefits for head injuries.
    * the benefits for thoracic injuries are less clear, and airbags are less effective at reducing injuries in certain types of accidents (such as angled impacts, pole impacts and high intrusion impacts).
    * there was insufficient data available at present to draw any firm conclusions on the risks and benefits of side deploying airbags.