Risk of Injury Associated with the Use of Seat Belts and Air Bags in Motor Vehicle Crashes

Cummins, Justin S.; Koval, Kenneth J.; Cantu, Robert V.; Spratt, Kevin F.
October 2008
Bulletin of the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases;2008, Vol. 66 Issue 4, p290
Academic Journal
Although air bags have been reported to reduce passenger mortality in frontal collisions, they have also been reported as a cause of injury in motor vehicle collisions (MVCs). The purpose of this study was to evaluate a large cohort o.f patients involved in MVCs to determine mortality and the pattern of injuries associated with seat belt use and air bag deployment. Information on patients involved in MVCs from 1988 to 2004 was obtained from the National Trauma Data Bank (NTDB). The data was evaluated based on four groups of safety devices: seat belt and deployed air bag (SBAB), seat belt only (SBO), deployed air bag only (ABO), and no safety devices (None). A total of 35,333 patients met study inclusion criteria. Air bags and seat belts used in combination decreased the risk of potentially fatal injuries, but increased the risk of lower extremity injuries (odds ratio, 1.35). The use of any type of restraint led to a decrease in the risk of injury or mortality in MVCs. Only half of all individuals in this study used any type of restraint device, which indicates the need for significant improvements in public health and safety seat belt utilization programs.


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