In 1983, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated two air hag vehicle fleet programs. The objective was to demonstrate that both original equipment and retrofit air bag systems operate in vehicles as intended. As of July 1, 1987, the two fleets together have accumulated over 200 million miles. Data are presented for 112 crashes involving air bag deployment in these government sponsored fleet vehicles in service between 1984 and July 1, 1987.
Of the 112 drivers involved in the crashes, 103 sustained either no injury or only minor (AIS 1)[ 1 ] 1 injuries. Of the nine remaining cases, six were AIS 2 and three AIS 3. To date, the limited data indicate that the air bag deployed as expected in all frontal crashes severe enough to require occupant restraint beyond that provided by the vehicle interior. Additionally, in collisions in which the air bag did not deploy, the crashes were of such low severity that no actuation was expected and none took place. In one case the crash was so severe (95 mph delta V and complete override by a logging truck) that deployment did not occur because the electrical system was destroyed before the crash sensors could initiate air bag deployment. This accident was judged to be un-survivable regardless of the type of restraint system used to protect the occupant.