Protection against head injuries should not be optional: A case for mandatory installation of side-curtain air bags

Lance E. Stuke, Raminder Nirula, Larry M. Gentilello, Shahid Shafi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: More than 9,000 vehicle occupants die each year in side-impact vehicle collisions, primarily from head injuries. The authors hypothesized that side-curtain air bags significantly improve head and neck safety in side-impact crash testing. Methods: Side-impact crash-test data were obtained from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which ranks occupant protection as good, acceptable, marginal, or poor. Vehicles of the same make and model that underwent side-impact crash testing both with and without side-curtain air bags were compared, as well as the protective effect of these air bags on occupants' risk for head and neck injury. Results: Of all the passenger vehicles, 25 models have undergone side-impact crash testing with and without side-curtain air bags by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Only 3 models without side-curtain air bags (12%) provided good head and neck protection for drivers, while 21 cars with side-curtain air bags (84%) provided good protection (P < .001). For rear passengers, the added protection from side-curtain air bags was less dramatic but significant (84% without vs 100% with side-curtain air bags, P = .04). Conclusion: Side-curtain air bags significantly improve vehicle occupant safety in side-impact crash tests. Installation of these air bags should be federally mandated in all passenger vehicles.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)496-499
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican Journal of Surgery
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010



  • Safety
  • Side-curtain airbags
  • Side-impact crash

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Medicine(all)

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