Mortality reduction with air bag and seat belt use in head-on passenger car collisions

Cameron S. Crandall, Lenora M. Olson, David P. Sklar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

121 Scopus citations


To assess the efficacy of occupant protection systems, the authors measured the mortality reduction associated with air bag deployment and seat belt use for drivers involved in head-on passenger car collisions in the United States. They used a matched case-control design of all head-on collisions involving two passenger cars reported to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System in 1992-1997, and driver mortality differences between the paired crash vehicles for air bag deployment and seat belt use were measured with matched-pair odds ratios. Conditional logistic regression was used to adjust for multiple effects. There were 9,859 head-on collisions involving 19,718 passenger cars and drivers. Air bag deployment reduced mortality 63% (crude odds ratio (OR) = 0.37, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.32, 0.42), while lap-shoulder belt use reduced mortality 72% (OR = 0.28, 95% Cl: 0.25, 0.31). In a conditional logistic model that adjusted for vehicle (rollover, weight, age) and driver (age, sex) factors, air bags (OR = 0.71, 95% Cl: 0.58, 0.87) and any combination of seat belts (OR = 0.25, 95% CI: 0.22, 0.29) were both associated with reduced mortality. Combined air bag and seat belt use reduced mortality by more than 80% (OR = 0.18, 95% CI: 0.13, 0.25). Thus, this study confirms the independent effect of air bags and seat belts in reducing mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)219-224
Number of pages6
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 1 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Accidents
  • Air bags
  • Automobiles
  • Case-control studies
  • Logistic models
  • Mortality
  • Odds ratio
  • Seat belts
  • Traffic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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