Side Airbag Deployments in the UK – Initial Case Reviews

  • Published: Loughborough University, 2003
  • Authors: A. Kirk and A. Morris
  • Date Added: 04 Feb 2013
  • Last Update: 04 Feb 2013
  • Format: pdf


Presenting initial cases of deployment from the UK, including examples where there is some suggestion that side airbag deployment may have contributed to injury outcomes.


The data for this work were collected as part of the UK Co-operative Crash Injury Study (CCIS) and the analysis covers cases investigated from 1998 to 2002. The CCIS study uses in-depth retrospective procedures involving vehicle examination and hospital medical data. The study also adopts a stratified sampling system such that nearly all ‘fatal’ RTIs, 80-90 per cent of the ‘serious’ RTIs (usually admission to hospital) and 20-30 per cent of ‘slight’ RTIs are investigated in selected regions of the UK. For a RTI to be investigated, at least one of the vehicles must be less than 7 years old, towed from the scene and contain at least one injured occupant. Injury outcome is assessed using the Abbreviated Injury Scale (AAAM, 1990). As the CCIS sample is biased towards more serious injury outcomes, only inferences of relative injury risk can be made about the whole UK population as a whole.

Key Findings:

  • Side airbag deployments are preventing injuries in the real world.

  • Side airbag deployment is taking place in cases where it would not be expected. Especially when the deployment is on the non-struck side and in some frontal impacts.

  • Cases have been found in this initial sample in which the RTI severity exceeded the protection capabilities of most modern safety systems.

  • Some cases are presented in which the side airbag deployment may have caused serious injury where it would not otherwise have been expected. This has shown that there is a need for future studies in to injury mechanisms and side airbag deployment.


Side Airbag, Side Impact


Qualitative and quantitative academic research paper produced in the UK.