Thursday, June 02, 2005

Airbags Increase Automobile Accident Deaths

Since 1974, in the cause of safety, Americans have been paying several hundred dollars extra for airbags in the form of higher new car prices. In 1989 the choice to not have an airbag in your car was eliminated by our benevolent, paternalistic government. After an accident just replacing an airbag can often cost more than the value of an older car, making repairs impractical. But the lives saved more than justify the extra costs, don't they? Maybe not (H/T Lyle):
Airbags Associated With Increased Automobile Accident Deaths, According To New UGA Study: "Athens, Ga. - The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that airbags installed in automobiles have saved some 10,000 lives as of January 2004. A just-released study by a statistician at the University of Georgia, however, casts doubt on that assertion.

According to a number of independent and government studies, automobile airbags have decreased fatalities by 21-22 percent for unbelted drivers and by 9-16 percent for drivers wearing seatbelts.

In fact, said UGA statistics professor Mary C. Meyer, a new analysis of existing data indicates that, controlling for other factors, airbags are actually associated with slightly increased probability of death in accidents.

'NHTSA recorded 238 deaths due to airbags between 1990 and 2002, according to information about these deaths on their Web site,' said Meyer. 'They all occurred at very low speeds, with injuries that could not have been caused by anything else. But is it reasonable to conclude that airbags cause death only at very low speeds? It seems more likely that they also cause deaths at high speeds, but these are attributed to the crash.

'For any given crash at high speed, we can't know what would have happened if there had been no airbag; however, statistical models allow us to look at patterns in the data, and compare risks in populations, in a variety of situations.'"
So how about a class action lawsuit against the groups that forced these things down the throats of the carmakers and the public? Maybe we can recover the costs we were all forced to pay for these things?

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