Analysis of Burn Injuries in Frontal Automobile Crashes

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The purpose of this study was to investigate burn injuries resulting from frontal automobile crashes and to determine the effects of frontal airbags on the incidence of burn injuries. The study included 25,464 individual cases from the National Automotive Sampling System database files for the years 1993 to 2000. Occupants were at a significantly higher risk to sustain a burn injury when exposed to an airbag deployment (1.54%) compared with those who received a burn injury when not exposed to an airbag deployment (0.02%; P = 0.02). In contrast to previous publications, this study found that 1.53% of front seat occupants exposed to an airbag deployment sustained an airbag-induced burn injury. The vast majority of airbag-induced burn injuries were minor (98.7%); however, in cases with no airbag deployment, the burns were often much more serious, including fatal burns (29.6%). Occupant weight, height, sex, seatbelt use, and seat position were all found not to be significant in predicting the risk of airbag induced burn injury, whereas age and crash velocity were found to be significant.

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