A study by a doctoral student in epidemiology at the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis showed that vehicle inequities have a significant impact on survivability in head-on collisions. Motor vehicle crashes are the most common cause of unintentional life lost around the world, with about 30,000 deaths occurring annually in the US due to motor-vehicle crashes.
Uzay Kirbiyik conducted a study of risk factors associated with drivers’ survival in head-on vehicle collisions by examining Fatality Analysis Reporting System database records in 1,108 crashes.
The results showed that the driver’s chance of survival was increased by driving a vehicle with a higher mass, driving a newer vehicle, being younger, being a male, using a seatbelt and having the airbag deployed in the crash.
Kirbiyik said his study found that more women die in head-on collisions, but deferred to medical trauma experts to explain why.
The study concludes that “vehicle inequity”, which includes differences like height and rigidity as well as weight, was a major cause of drivers’ fatalities. According to Kirbiyik, if you are in an automobile, given that other variables are equal, you are 17 times more likely to die compared to a driver of a light truck. This ratio is about nine times for a collision with an SUV.
According to the study, there were more young people between the ages of 15 and 24 involved in head-on collisions than any other age group. That age group accounts for 21% of the collisions, and the rate of death among that age group is 39%, the lowest among all age groups.
An intervention that reduces the involvement of younger drivers will likely help reduce the death rate of other age groups. This shouldn't be a surprise, but it is not an easy task to do.—Uzay Kirbiyik
Kirbiyik presented his study, “Factors affecting survival in head-on vehicle collisions” on 17 Nov. at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in New Orleans.