Both frontal and side airbags save lives. Frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by 29 percent and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 32 percent. Side airbags that protect the head reduce a car driver's risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and an SUV driver's risk by 52 percent. (Source: IIHS)
According to the National Spinal Cord Injury Database, motor vehicle crashes have accounted for more than a third of all reported cases of spinal cord injury! They also account for other injuries to the spine such as whiplash, vertebral fractures, and herniated discs. Results from an eight-year study conducted by the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center found airbags combined with seat belts effectively reduced spinal injuries from automobile crashes.
Seatbelts with built-in airbags
After more than a decade of development, Ford Motor Company launched the first back-seat safety belts with built-in air bags.
For parents who need to secure infant seats and boosters, however, inflatable seatbelts can pose a challenge. Most car safety seat makers still warn parents not to use them to secure infant or booster seats. They recommend using the child restraint anchorage system, Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children, (LATCH) or moving the car seat/booster seat to a seating position that doesn't have airbags in the seatbelts.