The Effect Of Restraint Use And Crash Mode On Injury Severity Risk For Children

  • Published: International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) 20th Conference, Paper Number 07-0216, 2007
  • Authors: Santokh Singh, Linda McCray and John Brewer
  • Date Added: 23 Jul 2013
  • Last Update: 07 Dec 2015
  • Format: pdf


To study the effect of restraint use under different risk scenarios consisting of some possible contributors to injury risk: the restraint use, impact type, injury severity, and age of crash involved children.


Data analysis of children of age groups: infants, 1 to 3, 4 to 8, and 9 to 12 year olds, who were either uninjured, or sustained minor to fatal injuries in frontal, side, rear-end, or rollover crashes from the National Automotive Sampling System– Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS) 1994 to 2004.

Key Findings:

In general, the restrained children were much less likely to be injured.

1 – 3 year old Children

  • The relative risks of 0.303, 0.349, and 0.76 for MAIS=0 in frontal, side and rollover crashes show that there are low chances of protection against injuries for these children when they are unrestrained.

  • The relative risks of 0.88, 0.79, 0.51in frontal, side, and rear-end crashes are indicative of low risk of minor injury to 1 to 3 year olds in these types of crashes.

  • In rollover crashes, the relative risk of 10.33 of minor injury to an unrestrained child is about 7 times higher than the relative risk 1.42 to a restrained child.

  • For moderate to serious injuries, restrained children have low relative risks of serious injury: 0.71, 0.92, and 0.88, respectively, for frontal, side, and rear-end crashes.

  • The risk (10.44) to an unrestrained child in rollover crashes is about 10 times higher than the relative risk (1.48) to a restrained child.

4 to 8 year olds Children

  • In side, rear, and rollover crashes, these children have greater chance of being uninjured when they are restrained.

  • For minor injuries, the restrained children showed a low risk in side, rear and rollover crashes, these children have a higher risk 1.6 of sustaining minor injury in frontal crashes when they are unrestrained as compared with restrained children.

  • The restrained children of this age group have much lower relative risks of moderate to serious injuries: 0.47 in frontal, 0.80 in side, 0.15 in rear impacts, and 0.24 in rollover crashes. In fact, the relative risks for the unrestrained group were, respectively, 7.7, 7.6, 13.3, and 23.6 times higher than the restrained children.

9 to 12 year old Children

  • The relative risks of no injury or minor in frontal, rear and rollover crashes for the restrained group show that the restraint use provided protection against injuries to these children in these crashes. Also, the relative risk of sustaining injuries in side impacts was higher for the unrestrained children.

  • The relative risks of serious to moderate injuries: 0.81 in frontal, 0.87 in side, 0.68 in rear-end, and 0.79 in rollover crashes for the restrained group show that the restraint was protective for 9 to 12 years old children against moderate to serious injuries in these types of crashes.

  • The results show the overall effectiveness of restraint use in protecting the children from different crash impacts. The level of injury to a child may further depend on whether the frontal impact was full, offset, or center and side impact was near-side or far-side.

  • Sample sizes in some sectors of the data were not large enough to statistically validate the findings. The reason for limited or insufficient data could either be the rare occurrence of certain risk factor combinations or the result of insufficient attention in collecting the pertinent data.

  • This shows the necessity of collecting more data in such sectors of the data so that valid conclusions can be drawn about restraint systems effectiveness.