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A Purdue University research team that studied five years of motor vehicle accidents in Washington State concludes antilock brakes and airbags don't minimize accidents or injuries because those systems may encourage more aggressive driving.

Fred Mannering, a Purdue professor of civil engineering, led the study. The results, which are bound to be controversial with auto makers and safety experts, say the innovations designed to improve safety also make drivers less vigilant. Mannering calls this behavior “offset hypotheses.”

He notes that when ABS debuted, insurance companies said accident rates actually increased for vehicles equipped with the systems that prevent wheels from locking up while braking.

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Do Airbags Really Help?  Researchers Are Not Convinced

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