September 2011

Document Type


Degree Name



Dept. of Public Health and Preventive Medicine


Oregon Health & Science University


Background: Injury is the fifth leading cause of death in the US, and a large proportion of injury deaths result from Motor Vehicle Crashes (MVCs). Side impact collisions pose high risks of death and serious injury compared to other crash types, both for crashes with other vehicles and single-vehicle crashes with fixed objects, such as utility poles. However, few studies have appropriately compared the propensity for injury of these two types of side impact. Methods: The present study used 10 years of data abstracted from the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS) to analyze the risks of polytrauma in side impact crashes for two types of side impacts: pole-like fixed objects and other vehicles. Additionally, ratios comparing the relative risk of near- versus far-side occupants in the two types of crashes were calculated. These risk ratios were developed using a multi-variable general estimating equations (GEE) log-binomial model, with injury severity characterized using the injury severity score (ISS), a measure of the extent of polytrauma. Results & Conclusion: Relative to side impacts with other vehicles, pole-type side impacts are highly associated (RR = 1.53 [95% CI: 1.15, 2.03]) with ISS ≥ 16. After adjusting for other crash characteristics, near-side seating position relative to the side of the vehicle receiving the impact was also associated with a significant increase in risk of polytrauma (RR = 1.82 [95% CI: 1.36, 2.44]). The results of the present study inform vehicle and road design from the perspective of injury prevention.




School of Medicine



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