Inspiration

 
 Good Morning America   World News Tonight   20/20   Downtown   Primetime   Nightline   This Week 
HOMEPAGE
NEWS SUMMARY
U.S.
INTERNATIONAL
MONEYScope
WEATHER.com
LOCAL NEWS
ENTERTAINMENT
SPORTS
SCI / TECH
POLITICS
HEALTH
LIFESTYLES
TRAVEL
NEWS PLUS
  REFERENCE
  TURBO NEWS
  SEND THIS PAGE
TO A FRIEND
  EMAIL
ABCNEWS.com
  HELP & TOOLS
Sponsored by ABCNews.com
Inspiration Technology
GO TO:
HOMEPAGE ONAIR FEATURE
Crash Test
Tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety show that head protection devices like the one on the left provide cushioning that may prevent fatal head injuries during a crash. (ABCNEWS.com)
Protect Your Brain
Head Protection Bags Can Make All the Difference
ABCNEWS.com

Dec. 14 - Abigail Baglione, 21, has trouble talking because of what happened to her three months ago while visiting a college classmate in Connecticut.    

    She was in the passenger seat of a girlfriend's car when they made a U-turn into the path of an oncoming Jeep Grand Cherokee that was traveling at 45 miles per hour. The jeep smashed into Baglione's door.
     Baglione suffered a severe injury to her head and was in a coma for seven weeks. Her side impact accident - in which the victim's car is "t-boned" by another vehicle or slams into a rigid object like a telephone pole - is the type that caused fatal head injuries to more than 4,000 people last year.
     But crash tests done by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicate an injury like Baglione's could be prevented by protection devices already available in some cars.

Potentially Lifesaving Difference
Take what happened three years ago to Linda Rasmussen of Plano, Texas. As she drove her daughter, Jennifer, to a friend's house, a pickup truck going an estimated 50 mph, broadsided her car as she made a left turn - bashing in Jennifer's door. Jennifer walked away with nothing more than a bruise on her shoulder. What made the difference between Baglione's and Rasmussen's crashes?
     While the '89 Chevy Baglione was riding in had no side impact airbags, Rasmussen's '97 BMW had two types of air bags - a new one designed to protect the head and a more traditional side air bag that protects the torso. It's new technology and it saved Jennifer's life says the institute's director, Brian O'Neill. "A small amount of cushioning that you get from these inflatable side airbags for the head provide sufficient distance and energy absorption to reduce what would be fatal forces to the nonfatal level."
     In the past three years, 16 crash tests have produced consistent results. Three sensors in the dummy's head tell the computer that without advanced protection bags, trauma to the head is fatal or nearly so at 18 mph.
     BMW's X5 is the first sport utility vehicle equipped with the new bags. During the institute's test, the vehicle's side air bag dropped down and inflated as it was slammed into a rigid pole, just in time to cushion the dummy's head.
     "This is a very violent crash and you're not going to come out of a crash like this unscathed," says O'Neil. "What is remarkable is that because of this kind of technology, you can come out of a crash like this and survive, without brain damage or fatal head injury." O'Neill says what's unique about these air bags is their reliability. "In 100 percent of the cases, these things work, they're remarkable."

New Safety Standards Needed
The head protection comes in three designs, depending on the automaker and the Institute finds them all equally effective. They have been available since the 1997 model year, but the federal government is only now beginning preparing to test the new technology.
     Sue Bailey is the administrator for government entity that sets auto standards, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Bailey has not seen the institute crash tests, and says NHTSA must collect data and perform its own crash tests. She does not think a federal head bag standard will be possible before 2003. "We want to be sure that what we're regulating does not create a hazard or more deaths from an inadvertent explosion of that airbag," she says.
     O'Neill believes the government standards are too weak. NHTSA rates cars based on crash tests they conduct with a 3,000 pound sedan-style barrier which O'Neill says is outdated because 50 percent of passenger vehicles now are in the 5,000 pound range - indicating the public's preference for sport utility vehicles and light trucks. "The government does not assess whether [a] car provides protection for your head," he says, "It will assess whether it provides good protection for your torso but not your head." And O'Neill says that is not enough.
     In the meantime, some manufacturers are installing head bags voluntarily, even in economy models. But O'Neill complains that NHTSA's consumer information does not adequately reward those manufacturers who offer headbags. "A manufacturer that puts in a head protection system for side impacts will get zero credit from the government in the consumer information program," he says.
     Rasmussen says she's extremely lucky. She had no idea until after she totaled her car that the vehicle had head air bags. But, she says she'll never drive without them. "Those ended up making the difference between a tragic loss in my life and walking away thinking how fortunate we were."

2001 Models with Head Protection

A head protection system is standard equipment in some new cars and it's offered in others as an option for a cost of $250 to $400. The following list from the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety lists the 2001 automobile models that offer the head protection bags. The institute finds all three air bag types equally effective.
    

MODELS WITH HEAD PROTECTION
MODELEQUIPMENT AIRBAG TYPE
AUDI
A4 optional inflatable curtain
A6 optional inflatable curtain
A8 standard inflatable curtain
S4 standard inflatable curtain
TT standard dual-chamber thorax bag
BMW
3 series standard inflatable tubular structure
5 series standard inflatable tubular structure
7 series standard inflatable tubular structure
X5 standard inflatable tubular structure
BUICK
Century optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Regal optional dual-chamber thorax bag
CADILLAC
Seville standard dual-chamber thorax bag
CHEVROLET
Impala optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Monte Carlo optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Venture standard dual-chamber thorax bag
CHRYSLER
300M optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Concorde optional dual-chamber thorax bag
LHS optional dual-chamber thorax bag
PT Cruiser optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Sebring 4-door optional inflatable curtain
Town & Country optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Voyager optional dual-chamber thorax bag
DODGE
Caravan/Gr. Caravan optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Intrepid optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Neon optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Stratus 4-door optional inflatable curtain
FORD
Escape optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Expedition optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Explorer optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Focus optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Taurus optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Windstar optional dual-chamber thorax bag
HYUNDAI
Santa Fe optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Sonata standard dual-chamber thorax bag
XG300 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
INFINITI
G20 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
I30 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
Q45 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
QX4 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
JAGUAR
S Type standard dual-chamber thorax bag
XK standard dual-chamber thorax bag
LEXUS
LS 430 standard inflatable curtain
GS 300/430 standard inflatable curtain
LINCOLN
Continental standard dual-chamber thorax bag
LS standard dual-chamber thorax bag
Navigator standard dual-chamber thorax bag
Town Car standard dual-chamber thorax bag
MAZDA
626 optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Millenia standard dual-chamber thorax bag
MPV optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Protege optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Tribute optional dual-chamber thorax bag
MERCEDES
CL standard inflatable curtain
C class standard inflatable curtain
E class standard inflatable curtain
S class standard inflatable curtain
MERCURY
Cougar optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Mountaineer optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Sable optional dual-chamber thorax bag
NISSAN
Altima optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Maxima optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Pathfinder optional dual-chamber thorax bag
Sentra optional dual-chamber thorax bag
OLDSMOBILE
Silhouette standard dual-chamber thorax bag
PONTIAC
Aztek standard dual-chamber thorax bag
Montana standard dual-chamber thorax bag
PORSCHE
911 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
Boxster standard dual-chamber thorax bag
SAAB
9-3 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
9-5 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
SATURN
L series optional inflatable curtain
S series optional inflatable curtain
TOYOTA
Sequoia optional inflatable curtain
VOLKSWAGEN
Cabrio standard dual-chamber thorax bag
Golf standard inflatable curtain
Jetta standard inflatable curtain
Passat standard inflatable curtain
VOLVO
C70 standard dual-chamber thorax bag
S40/V40 standard inflatable curtain
S60 standard inflatable curtain
S80 standard inflatable curtain
V70 standard inflatable curtain

2001 Models With Head Protection


 RELATED STORIES
PrimeTime: Side-Impact Air Bags (Transcript)


PrimeTime Thursday






 WEB LINKS
NHTSA on Air Bags
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety -- Air Bags







E-MAIL THIS PAGE

Send this story to a friend.



 
GO TO:
SECTIONS



ABC.com ESPN.com Disney.com Family.com GO.com Mr.Showbiz Movies.com