Position Paper on Crash Initiated Restraint Systems

(Airbags and Seat Belt Pretensioners)


The Research Committee for Automobile Repairs (RCAR) is an international body consisting of 19 individual national insurance research centers and repair committees concerned with motor repair research, training, and the pursuit of activities of common technical interest.

The overall objective of the Committee is to improve the level of safety, security, quality, design, and method of repair of motor vehicles in order to reduce costs to the insurance industry and to the motoring public.

At the 1995 Annual RCAR Meeting held in the United Kingdom, it was decided to issue a position paper on crash initiated restraint systems in order to indicate to vehicle manufacturers and automobile insurance companies the Committee's stance on this important subject. The Research Committee for Automobile Repairs recognizes the tremendous contribution to vehicle occupant safety that the increasing availability of crash initiated restraint systems is making throughout the world. However it is important to design these systems such that any unnecessary cost associated with component theft or post accident repair are minimized or avoided.

RCAR has determined the following performance guidelines for crash initiated restraint systems:

1. Vehicle manufacturers should ensure that the unnecessary deployment of airbags, seat belt pre-tensioners and other crash initiated restraint systems is avoided. In this respect the development of airbag systems with variable deployment criteria to take seat belt usage into consideration is to be encouraged. Manufacturers are also advised to develop safe, cost effective discriminatory control mechanisms which avoid restraint systems deployment in unoccupied seating positions.

Restraint system deployment should not cause damage to components such as facias (dashboards), windscreens (windshield), or associated parts.

3. To minimize the replacement costs incurred after deployment and to discourage theft, crash initiated restraint systems and associated components should be priced as low as possible.

4. In countries where the 15 km/h 40% offset damageability test is conducted to determine insurance classification, the repair costs incurred due to restraint system deployments and associated damage occurring as a result of the test will be taken into account and reflected in the vehicle’s final classification index.

5. Airbag modules should be numbered to discourage theft and attached to the vehicle so that illegal removal is made difficult.


RCAR believes that these steps will reduce unnecessary costs being passed on to the consumer and maximize the benefits of crash initiated restraint systems


November 1995

Hans Gustafsson, Secretary General RCAR