1997 was the worst year for airbag-related deaths and injuries when 53 people died including 31 children. Airbags have killed 264 people since NHTSA became keeping a record of the deaths and injuries.
NHTSA statistics show that newer cars and trucks have the best airbag records. No deaths were reported from the 2002 and 2003 model years. One death was reported from a 2004 model car. In 2002, 49 states and the District of Columbia had safety belt use laws in effect. Use rates vary widely from state to state, reflecting factors such as differences in public attitudes, enforcement practices, legal provisions, and public information and education programs. From 1975 through 2002, it is estimated that safety belts saved 164,753 lives, including 14,164 lives saved in 2002. If ALL passenger vehicle occupants over age 4 wore safety belts, 21,317 lives (that is, an additional 7,153) could have been saved in 2002.
In 2002, it is estimated that 376 children under age 5 were saved as a result of child restraint use. An estimated 6,567 lives were saved by child restraints from 1975 through 2002.
In 2002, 39 percent of passenger car occupants and 41 percent of light truck occupants involved in fatal crashes were unrestrained. In fatal crashes, 73 percent of passenger vehicle occupants who were totally ejected from the vehicle were killed. Safety belts are effective in preventing total ejections: only 1 percent of the occupants reported to have been using restraints were totally ejected, compared with 30 percent of the unrestrained occupants
NHTSA estimates that alcohol was involved in 41 percent of fatal crashes and in 6 percent of all crashes in 2002.
Approximately 1.4 million drivers were arrested in 2001 for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics. This is an arrest rate of 1 for every 137 licensed drivers in the United States (2002 data not yet available). Intoxication rates for drivers in fatal crashes in 2002 were 31 percent for motorcycles, 23 percent for light trucks, 22 percent for passenger cars, and 2 percent for large trucks.