As reported by Forbes.com, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shocked the automotive world in October 2005 by announcing that side airbags that protect people’s heads are reducing driver deaths in cars struck on the driver’s side by an estimated 37%. Currently, side airbags are not always standard, and as the safety bar ratchets ever higher, cars without them are lagging in safety ratings. This is evident in the Forbes Magazine list of the least-safe cars for 2007. In crash tests, a car with side airbags can be among the best performers. Without them, its ratings can fall dramatically.
According to IIHS, from 1982 until 2005 in the United States, driver death rates per million passenger vehicles registered decreased 51%. However, most of that drop came from frontal crashes, in which driver death rates decreased 53%, due to such factors as frontal airbags, higher seat belt use and more crash-worthy vehicles. In contrast, driver death rates in side crashes decreased 42% during that time. Statistics reported by IIHS reveal that, since 1992, the number of deaths from automobile accidents has fluctuated within a fairly narrow range, from about 39,000 to more than 43,000. However, deaths in 2005 are the highest since 1990.
Please see the complete report by Forbes Magazine as well as the IHHS release referenced above for more information regarding the effectiveness of side airbags. If you or a family member has suffered injuries in connection with an automobile accident, please contact us on-line at Regan Zambri & Long or call us at (202) 463-3030 for a free consultation. If you would like to receive our electronic newsletter, please click here.