Knee injuries in motor vehicle collisions: a study of the National Accident Sampling System database for the years 1979-1995

Accid Anal Prev. 2000 Nov;32(6):779-86. doi: 10.1016/s0001-4575(99)00131-1.


A detailed study of knee injuries recorded in the 1979-1995 National Accident Sampling System database maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was conducted. Injuries to other body regions were also considered in order to illustrate the relative frequency of knee injuries. This study demonstrated that knee injuries constitute approximately 10% of all injuries recorded every year. However, the majority of these injuries were of low severity (i.e. contusions, abrasions, lacerations) with an abbreviated injury score (AIS) of 1. Most knee injuries occurred following a frontal collision with no intrusion. The study also indicated most knee fractures occur in crashes where the vehicle velocity differences (deltaVs) were less than 45 kmph, with some occurring at deltaVs as low as 10 kmph. Serious non-fracture knee injuries (i.e. ligament tears) rated AIS 2 accounted for 20 out of every 1000 injuries and predominantly occurred at deltaVs below 25 kmph. In this study it was noted that women were more likely to experience a knee contusion than men. This study further suggests that knee impact scenarios have remained relatively constant over the years as the knee injury rates showed little variation. The rate of lap and shoulder belt use was lower in occupants who experienced a knee injury vs. the rate in the overall database and airbags were present in only a small number of cases. As this study largely included only vehicles without airbags it provides a good baseline for analysis of the influence of the airbag on knee injury trends in the future.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Child
  • Databases, Factual
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Knee Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • United States