Side airbags work. That is the conclusion of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
A recent study reports that "Side airbags that protect people’s heads are reducing driver deaths in cars struck on the near (driver) side by an estimated 37 percent. Airbags that protect only the chest and abdomen but not the head are reducing deaths by 26 percent. "
According to the study, if every passenger vehicle would have side airbags with head protection 2000 lives would be saved a year.