Seat position and the risk of serious thoracoabdominal injury in lateral motor vehicle crashes

Craig D. Newgard, Roger J. Lewis, Jess F. Kraus, K. John McConnell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Previous studies have suggested that motor vehicle occupants seated on the near-side of a lateral impact have a higher proportion of thoracoabdominal injuries. However, due to limitations in previous studies, the true association between seat position, side of lateral impact, and thoracoabdominal injury is unclear. To assess the relationship between seat position (i.e., near-side, middle-seat, and far-side, regardless of row), side of lateral motor vehicle crash (MVC), and serious thoracoabdominal injury after adjusting for important crash factors. National population-based cohort of adult subjects involved in MVCs and included in the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System database (NASS CDS) from 1995 to 2003. Occupants aged ≥16 years involved in MVCs where the highest external deformation of the vehicle was located on the right or left side (i.e., lateral). Serious thoracic or abdominal injury, defined as an Abbreviated Injury Scale (AIS) ≥3 in the thoracic or abdominal body region. Fifteen thousand, one hundred and sixty persons involved in primary lateral MVCs were represented in the NASS CDS database during the 9-year period. There were 1867 (2%) persons with serious thoracic injuries and 507 persons (0.5%) with serious abdominal injuries. In multivariable logistic regression models that adjusted for important crash factors and the NASS CDS sampling design, seat position was a strong effect modifier of the association between side of lateral impact and serious thoracic (p < 0.0001) and abdominal (p = 0.0009) injury, with the risk of serious thoracic and abdominal injury highest for occupants seated on the near-side of the crash. The mean probability of injury was higher for near-side and middle-seat occupants compared to far-side occupants, and the probability of thoracic injury was approximately four times higher than that of abdominal injury for all seat positions. There is a strong, synergistic relationship between seat position and side of lateral MVC in assessing risk of serious thoracic and abdominal injury among adult occupants. The probability of serious thoracoabdominal injury increases with increasing proximity of seat position to side of the crash and the risk of thoracic injury is higher than abdominal injury for all seat positions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)668-674
Number of pages7
JournalAccident Analysis and Prevention
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2005


  • Abdominal injury
  • Motor vehicle crash
  • Thoracic injury

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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