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Side airbags save lives - demand them

Side airbags save lives - demand them in your next car

Kiwi drivers are being urged to demand life-saving side airbag technology in their vehicles as part of a renewed effort to prevent deaths and serious head injuries from car crashes.

The high profile Land Transport NZ-ACC vehicle safety campaign gets underway this Sunday (20 April), with the launch of a disturbing new television ad depicting the debilitating effects of brain injuries suffered in crashes.

“These are the kind of long-term, debilitating injuries which are sustained in side-impact crashes by people in vehicles which don’t have head-protecting side airbags,” said Land Transport NZ Chief Executive Wayne Donnelly.

Side impacts account for one fifth of car crashes on New Zealand roads, and the cost of these crashes is high. In 2006 there were over 2,200 side impact crashes, resulting in 49 deaths and more than 1,600 injuries. ACC figures show that 29 percent of claims from motor vehicle crashes are related to head injuries, with $8.1 million in new claims added every year.

ACC Chief Executive Dr Jan White said it was important for car buyers to specify a full airbag package of front, side and head-protecting side airbags when purchasing a new vehicle.

“The message to motorists is simple - if you want to maximise your safety you must choose a vehicle with a head-protecting airbag.”

Head-protecting side airbags, also called curtain airbags, are typically located behind the roof trim above the doors, and cover the windows when they inflate. They usually cover front and rear windows, protecting people in both seats. The airbags inflate in a side-on crash, protecting passenger’s heads from potentially deadly impacts.

Research carried out by the Australian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) has shown that occupants in vehicles with effective head-protecting side airbags can survive crashes which are lethal to occupants of vehicles without the life-saving technology.

While it is estimated that less than one percent of cars in the New Zealand fleet are currently fitted with side airbags, they are an increasingly common feature, with 50 percent of new cars now estimated to have the technology.

The Brain Injury Association of New Zealand is supporting the new advertising campaign, as motor vehicle crashes are one of the main causes of traumatic brain injury, often resulting in brain injuries at the more severe end of the spectrum.


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