(autoinsidernews) - Side curtain airbags, which protect people's heads, can reduce deaths in accidents by 52 percent in sport-utility vehicles, and by 37 percent in all vehicles, according to a new study released by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS report says that side curtain bags are more effective than airbags that protect only the chest and abdomen but not the head, which alone reduce deaths by 26 percent.
We found lower fatality risks across the board among older and younger drivers, male and female drivers, and drivers of both small cars and larger passenger vehicles, says Anne McCartt, Institute vice president for research and an author of the study. Today, more than 80 percent of vehicles sold in the U.S. have curtain airbags as standard or available equipment. While federal regulations don't require side airbags in passenger vehicles, manufacturers are installing them on more models. A large part of this is the result of a voluntary agreement among automakers to improve protection from side impacts with SUVs and pickups. The agreement essentially will result in all cars, SUVs, and pickups being equipped with side airbags with head protection by the 2010 model year.
Once standard, the IIHS estimates that as many as 2000 deaths per year will be prevented, reports Trend.