In this paper, a comparison study was conducted between two groups of children between one and twelve years of age exposed to passenger air bag deployment. Group 1 was composed of children fatally injured by passenger air bag exposure and investigated by the Special Crash Investigation Program of the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Group 2, the comparison group, was composed of children exposed to passenger air bags, but suffering minor injury and was selected through the Partners for Child Passenger Safety Study, a unique mechanism for identifying children in crashes. The crash severity as measured by delta v was not significantly different between the two groups (p=0.35). The most striking difference between the two groups was the pattern of restraint usage. Lap shoulder belt use was twelve times as high in group 2 than in group 1. In addition,pre-impact braking was 2.5 times more common in group 1. These results indicate the importance of pre-crash positioning as a risk factor in child exposure to air bag deployment. In addition, the average height and weight of the children in the group 2 correspond to at least a fifth percentile eleven-year-old. This relationship suggests that size and restraint status rather than age are important determinants of air bag injury risk.
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Child Occupant Protection in Motor Vehicle Crashes
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Professional Engineering Publications Ltd.