A just released study done by a statistician at the University of Georgia flatly contradicts National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) estimates that airbags have saved some 10,000 lives as of January 2004. This new study is almost certain to be labeled inconclusive and
controversial because of its conclusions. The study was published this week in the magazine "Chance." According to UGA Statistics Professor Mary
C. Meyer the evidence shows that airbags do more harm than good.
Full story: www.physorg.com
The reason earlier studies have found that airbags save lives is that they used only a special subset of the available data, said Meyer. The Fatality
Analysis and Reporting System (FARS) is a high-quality compilation of information about every highway accident for which a death occurred. The
Crashworthiness Data System (CDS) is another high-quality dataset, containing random samples of all accidents. The previous studies used FARS, and
Meyer’s study used CDS.
“When we look at the random sample of all accidents, we find that airbags are associated with increased risk of death,” she said, “and this
increase is due to more deaths with airbags in low-speed crashes and no seatbelts. However, if we limit the dataset to include only collisions in
which a fatality occurred, we get a significantly reduced risk of death due to airbags.”
By way of analogy, the Meyer explained it this way: “If you look at people who have some types of cancer, you will see that those who get radiation
treatment have a better chance of surviving than those who don’t. However, radiation is inherently dangerous and could actually cause cancer. If you
give everyone radiation treatments, whether they have cancer or not, you will probably find an increased risk of death in the general population.
“Making everyone have airbags and then verifying the effectiveness using only fatal crashes in FARS is like making everyone get radiation and then
estimating the lives saved by looking only at people who have cancer. Overall, there will be more deaths if everyone is given radiation, but in the
cancer subset, radiation will be effective.” We are confident that our analyses better reflect the actual effectiveness of airbags in the general
population," said Meyer.
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This study points up the fallacy of NHTSA's claims concerning airbags and their claim to being objective & unbiased. It has been known for years
that airbags can and do cause fatalities amongst infants & toddlers, cause miscarriages amongst pregnant women, and result in serious injuries &
deaths to drivers. However, this is the first study to actually show their claims about airbags to be false. Hopefully it will lead to widespread
public discussion and eventually to improved passive restraint systems for automobiles.
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