Government Study Finds Interior Padding In Vehicles Significantly Reduces Head Injuries

A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that interior padding in vehicles reduces life-threatening head injuries by 24 percent and cuts fatalities by 4 percent. Although head-protecting side airbags have minimized the role of interior padding in protecting passengers from head injuries, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety points out that padding “is still important” in minor motor vehicle accidents “that don’t trigger airbags,” and it also protects passengers whose “heads collide with vehicle parts that aren’t covered by airbags.”

According to the IIHS, the study evaluated interior padding in terms of its effectiveness to meet an occupant protection standard established by the NHTSA in 1995. Researchers analyzed severe head injuries in general and head injuries that contributed to fatalities specifically, in vehicles without head-protecting side airbags.

Automakers began adding interior padding to vehicles in the late 1990s, using energy-absorbent materials such as “composite plastic foam, egg-crate-like ribs and crushable tubes,” according to the IIHS. The agency estimates that interior padding “adds about $26 to the lifetime cost of purchasing and operating a vehicle,” which seems a small price to pay for a 24 percent reduction in life-threatening head injuries.

Although interior padding in vehicles has been shown to reduce the rates of occupant injury and death, motor vehicle accidents continue to be the second leading cause of traumatic brain injury for all age groups in the U.S., and the number one cause of TBI-related deaths. TBI victims may suffer from lifelong impairments, such as memory loss, speech problems, chronic headaches, mood swings, personality changes, trouble concentrating and sensory problems.

Auto accidents can also result in other serious injuries, including:

  • Broken bones
  • Burns
  • Organ damage
  • Disfigurement
  • Paralysis
  • Nerve damage
  • Spinal cord injuries.

It is important to note the recent changes to Florida’s PIP law, as these changes directly affect victims of motor vehicle accidents. Florida drivers are required to carry a minimum of $10,000 in personal injury protection. Beginning Jan. 1, 2013, accident victims will be required to seek medical attention within 14 days of the accident, and only persons with an emergency medical condition will be entitled to receive the full PIP coverage of $10,000. The PIP limit for all others will be $2,500.

If you or a loved one has sustained serious injuries in a car accident, a Sarasota injury attorney can review your case and determine whether you may be entitled to PIP coverage and other compensation. Contact an experienced Sarasota injury lawyer today for a free consultation to learn about your legal rights.