This study set out to evaluate the level of side impact protection to occupants of current model passenger cars in Australia to provide directions for future improvements in occupant protection. Inspections of 198 real world side impact crashes involving 234 hospitalised or killed occupants were undertaken between 1988 and 1992. Retrospective examination was carried out given that the principal focus was on secondary safety performance Information was collected on the degree and extent of deformation using the NASS inspection system, the change of velocity during impact (delta-V), seat belt wearing behaviour, the injuries sustained by the occupants and the source of injury inside or outside the vehicle. Injury patterns for all and the most severe injuries were compared with their contact source by occupant seating position and whether it was a near or far side impact. The results are discussed in terms of reported findings overseas and recommendations were made for fixture improvements in side impact protection in Australia.