A new study by the Insurance Research Council (IRC) details the steady incorporation of front and side airbag systems in motor vehicles and documents the beneficial impact of this trend on auto injury insurance claim costs. IRC examined the type of passenger restraint system found in insured vehicles in a sample of 2007 closed auto injury insurance claims and looked at differences in the extent of injuries and subsequent claim payments.

The report findings indicate a rapid transition from seatbelts only to front and side airbag systems as model years advanced within the sample of vehicles involved in 2007 personal injury protection (PIP) claims. Among vehicles from model year 1990, 80 percent had seatbelts but no airbags, and 20 percent had front airbags. Among 1998 model year vehicles, all vehicles were equipped with airbags — 89 percent had front airbags only, and 11 percent also included side airbags. Among vehicles from model year 2007, 82 percent had front and side airbags.

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