Airbags and Saving Lives
They have finally revised the data!
This link takes you to data that pretty well proves the lack of efficacy of air bags. First driver-side airbags are 91, passenger-side 93, trucks, suvs, later. So air bags, an anti-mortality device, enter the population in 91, and must reach over 50% somewhere around 96, based on overall average life around 10 years (west coast, bay area, are of course, different). Yet the death rate bottoms in 91 and then moves in a “narrow band” thereafter. Where is the “airbag” effect? —Angus
(Angus’s thoughts here led to an exchange with his webmaster Sam on the topic. Angus, being an open-minded fellow, encouraged Sam to post his perspective. Have comments of your own? Use the “Ask Angus” link to share them.)
The link above does not mention airbags. The data you’ll find there originally comes from the Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System. Linked from the home page is their report on “Occupant Protection” (PDF-format). On page 5 of that report you will see that they estimate 2,488 lives were saved by airbags in 2003 (the most recent year analyzed), with steady increases since 1996. So that’s their answer to Angus.
A little further into the site you’ll find a link to another PDF apparently based on a PowerPoint presentation. Page 11 claims that the death rate per 100 million vehicle miles travelled has drifted down slowly but steadily in the air bag era. The stupid bar chart lacks precision, but it looks like we’re talking from 1.75 to 1.45 deaths per. Which is “moving in a narrow band,” but 1) it’s moving down through that narrow band and 2) it includes a sharp increase in motorcycle fatalities per mile travelled.
The big picture is not in dispute: car travel is safer than ever, thanks mainly to seatbelts and sobriety. The DoT asserts statistical findings that airbags save some lives. I don’t know from airbags, but I am inclined to believe them. —Sam