Research recently reported in the May/June 2009 issue of Archives of Facial Plastic Surgery indicates that wearing a seatbelt has the most protective effect against facial injury in auto accidents, while airbags have little effect on injuries if seatbelts aren't worn. In other words, airbags alone were not associated with a reduced chance of facial fracture injury while seatbelts, together with front airbag use, were associated with a significantly decreased likelihood of facial fracture.
Researchers also concluded that automakers still have some work to do to protect occupants from side impacts, which were significantly associated with an increased risk of facial fractures. As explained, side impacts remain "an area where current vehicle and restraint technology may be inadequate."
Finally, researchers found that "[t]he most significant risk for all fracture types was impact with . . . with stationary objects such as trees, phone poles, or other static structures."
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