In this study, we investigated and assessed the dependence of dummy head injury mitigation on the side curtain airbag and occupant distance under a side impact of a Dodge Neon. Full-scale finite element vehicle simulations of a Dodge Neon with a side curtain airbag were performed to simulate the side impact. Owing to the wide range of parameters, an optimal matrix of finite element calculations was generated using the design method of experiments (DOE); the DOE method was performed to independently screen the finite element results and yield the desired parametric influences as outputs. Also, analysis of variance (ANOVA) techniques were used to analyze the finite element results data. The results clearly show that the influence of moving deformable barrier (MDB) strike velocity was the strongest influence parameter on both cases for the head injury criteria (HIC36) and the peak head acceleration, followed by the initial airbag inlet temperature. Interestingly, the initial airbag inlet temperature was only a ~30% smaller influence than the MDB velocity; also, the trigger time was a ~54% smaller influence than the MDB velocity when considering the peak head accelerations. Considering the wide range in MDB velocities used in this study, results of the study present an opportunity for design optimization using the different parameters to help mitigate occupant injury. As such, the initial airbag inlet temperature, the trigger time, and the airbag pressure should be incorporated into vehicular design process when optimizing for the head injury criteria. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.