The New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) has evaluated the crashworthiness of numerous vehicles since 1979. Each year selected models were frontally crashed at 35 mph into a fixed barrier. Due to increased interest by the public in vehicle safety as part of their car-buying decisions, NHTSA has recently undertaken an expanded program of consumer information on vehicle safety issues. As part of this program, an analysis was performed to determine the effectiveness of light truck driver air bags to reduce the risk of severe injury as measured by the head and chest injury responses of selected NCAP tests. The light trucks tested most frequently were analyzed to obtain reliable estimates of air bag effectiveness. The vehicles were tested with all the restraints available on that model, which in the case of the early years were safety belts, and in the latter years were a combination of safety belts and air bags.
Analysis of NCAP data for multi-tested vehicle models for the period 1979 through 2000 indicated a significant reduction of 56% for light trucks in the risk of severe trauma for drivers in air bag equipped vehicles.