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Study: More Recent Airbag Design Does Not Increase Risk of Death

Submitted by jrlaw on Mar 11th, 2008

A study published in the March edition of the American Journal of Epidemiology found that second-generation airbags (those placed in passenger vehicles from the model years 1998-2005) do not place drivers at a greater risk than those in vehicles from model years 1994-1997. These second-generation, depowered airbags were utilized in an effort to reduce the number of deaths that plagued the industry due to the violently explosive deployment of the original first-generation design. The first-generation airbag design was particularly dangerous for vehicle passengers such as children and small adults. In 1997, U.S. regulations for testing air bags were changed and an opposite concern was raised - would drivers be at increased risk of death?

The study, completed by the National Study Center for Trauma and EMS at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, compared driver fatalities in 1,572 two-vehicle, head-on pasenger vehicle collisions. Factors of the driver's age, as well as whether or not they were wearing seat belts and their vehicle type, size and model year were considered and the investigators did not find an increased fatality risk among drivers with second-generation, compared with first-generation air bags. Additionally, the newer air bags may have actually improved protection for drivers of pick-up trucks, as study results indicate less risk for such drivers in head-on crashes.

Hopefully researchers can combine the results of this new study with previous studies to develop an even further, safer design. Until that day, however, we can at least rest assured that depowered second-generation airbags are not creating more danger.

If you or someone you know has been involved in a car accident, contact an Automobile Accident Attorney immediately.