Decomposition analysis of the effects of vehicle safety technologies on the motor vehicle collision–related mortality rate from 1994 to 2015

Academic Article


  • Objective: Though the mortality rate for motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) has been decreasing since the 1960s with the advent of the first federal seat belt laws in 1968, MVC remains a leading cause of death for individuals aged 1 to 44 years. The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of frontal (FABs) and side airbags (SABs) and electronic stability control (ESC) on the components of the MVC mortality rate. Methods: The MVC mortality rate from 1994 to 2015 was separated into its components of exposure of vehicles, exposure of travel, collision density, injury incidence, and case fatality rate. Year was categorized on the availability of safety technology in vehicles: 1994–1997 (first-generation FABs mandated), 1998–2001 (sled-certified, second-generation FABs mandated), 2002–2006 (increasing prevalence of SABs and ESC), 2007–2011 (advanced airbags mandated), and 2012–2015 (ESC mandated, SAB in over 90% of vehicles, introduction of advanced safety systems). Relative contributions (RCs) of the components to changes in the MVC-related mortality rate were calculated as the absolute value of the component’s beta coefficient divided by the sum of the absolute values of all components’ beta coefficients. Negative binomial regression–estimated rate ratios (RRs) for the changes in the rate of each component by year category compared to the prior year category. Results: Significant decreases in the MVC mortality rate were observed for 2007–2011 and 2012–2015. The decrease in 2007–2011 was due in most part to an 18% decrease in the injury incidence (RR = 0.82, P <.0001, RC = 63%), though there was a noted contribution by the decrease in vehicle miles traveled (RR = 0.95, P <.0001, RC = 15%). The continued decrease in mortality in 2012–2015 was due is most part to the 10% decreased case fatality rate (RR = 0.90, P <.0001, RC = 66%) because there was no significant change in the vehicle miles traveled and injury incidence. Conclusions: The results of this study highlight the effects of vehicle safety technologies on the MVC-related mortality rate and can help direct prevention efforts. Through the study period, there was no meaningful contribution to decreases in the MVC-related mortality rate due to components related to exposure (i.e., vehicles per population and the rate of vehicle miles traveled), suggesting that prevention efforts at decreasing exposure prevalence would have little effect on the MVC-related mortality rate. Instead, prevention efforts should continue to focus on event-phase methods to decrease injury occurrence and mitigate injury severity during the collision.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Griffin R; McGwin G; Kerby J
  • Start Page

  • S169
  • End Page

  • S172
  • Volume

  • 19
  • Issue

  • sup2