The airbag or Airbag in English
An airbag is a safety device designed as a cushion that is mounted inside a vehicle and is made in such a way that it inflates quickly in the event of a collision. The airbag protects passengers from being hit against the structure of the vehicle.
Airbags are considered one of the most important innovations of recent years. Airbags are usually hidden from view, but they are considered one of the most important safety devices invented so far.
Since 1999, thanks to a requirement made by the Insurance Institute for Road Safety, that all car manufacturers must adapt absolutely all their models of vehicles with front airbags. Side airbags are not a prerequisite, but almost all automakers equip their car models with them to meet federal side protection requirements.
Airbag technology has improved over the years and today there are vehicles that even feature rear window bags that protect people in the back seat and front airbags that prevent the driver and front passengers from hitting each other in the event of a crash.
John W. Hetrick was the one who initially conceived the idea of an airbag in 1952 after being involved in a car accident with his wife and daughter. The idea came about after both he and his wife tried to use their hands to prevent their daughter from hitting herself.
How airbags work
Once a collision occurs, the sensors work immediately and activate the airbag. If the shock is severe, the sensors will fill the airbags in a fraction of a second. Airbag deployment speeds can reach 200 mph.
Airbags offer maximum protection when the passenger is wearing a seat belt and sitting properly in their seat. If you want to locate the location of the airbag, you should look for the words “airbag” or “SRS” (supplementary restraint system) sewn into the fabric inside the car or on the plastic pattern inside the car.
Generally, airbag systems do not require regular maintenance. A properly functioning airbag can last a lifetime. However, once it is deployed in an accident, it needs to be changed immediately.
The Highway Safety Institute (IIHS) conducted a safety test of the front airbags in a 1973 Chevrolet Impala vehicle and they were shown to work properly even after 20 years.
There is a light that is located on the dashboard that shows if the instrument panel is working properly. Once you turn on the vehicle the light on the dashboard turns on for a few seconds. In case the airbag warning light flashes or remains illuminated with or without a warning beep or does not illuminate during ignition, then you need to bring your car with you to perform maintenance on your airbags.
Once you’ve been involved in an accident, you need to make sure your airbags are replaced. Keep in mind that airbags must be replaced at an auto repair shop that uses original manufacturer (OEM) replacement parts. This way, you’ll make sure you get an original airbag and not a fake, defective one.
Statistics show that front airbags can reduce driver fatalities by 29 percent in the event of frontal collisions and when front-seat passengers are 13 or older, fatalities are reduced by 32 percent. In driver-side crashes, side airbags that are meant to protect the head reduce the risk of death for the driver of the car by 37 percent and the risk of death of the driver of an SUV is reduced by 52 percent.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), since 1990, there have been more than 170 fatalities in the United States that were caused by airbags.
Types of airbags
Front airbags These are airbags that are designed to inflate in the event of a frontal accident. The airbag is designed in such a way that it inflates depending on the intensity of the crash and this can be moderate to severe. A typical airbag deploys during 50 milliseconds of impact (0.05 seconds). Airbags prevent a passenger’s chest and head from coming into contact with hard structures inside the vehicle to prevent extreme injuries. The airbag offers greater protection when the passenger or driver is seated correctly and wearing a seat belt.
Front airbags are currently equipped with a seat belt sensor and an algorithm designed to decide whether the airbag should deploy in an accident or not. If the occupant of the vehicle has not put on the seat belt, the front airbag will deploy when the crash is equivalent to an impact against a rigid wall especially when the vehicle is moving at a speed of 10 to 12 mph. If the occupant is wearing a seat belt, the airbag will deploy when the vehicle is going at a speed of about 16 mph. The driver’s airbag is located on the steering wheel, while the passenger airbag is located on the dashboard in front of the seat.
There are automakers that also place additional knee airbags, to reduce leg injuries. Knee airbags also control the movement of the occupant’s lower body and reduce injuries.
The side airbags deflate after a side impact and are there with the function of protecting the head and chest of the occupants of the car. The side airbag also prevents the occupant from hitting another passenger, especially to protect against impacts against rigid objects such as a tree or pole. A side airbag is a very important tool since in some cases, the windows break and it is the airbag that protects passengers from objects that cause penetrating puncture wounds. There is minimal space between the side of the vehicle and the occupant and it is for this reason that the side airbags deploy very quickly in the event of an accident. The side airbags deploy in a time of 10-20 milliseconds. When a collision occurs with narrow objects such as a tree or pole, the airbags deploy at a speed of 8 mph. If the car has crashed into a wider object, the airbags deploy at a speed of 18 mph. The side airbags are intended to protect the torso and deploy from the slot behind the seat. These airbags provide a protective cushion between the occupant’s chest and the door structure.
There are cases where airbags can cause injuries and these vary from mild to severe. These injuries occur when the airbags suddenly deflate.
Injuries that airbags can cause include:
- Damage to internal organs
- Facial injuries
- Skin lesions
- Hearing damage or loss
- Eye damage
Airbag injuries can be reduced if sufficient space is provided between the car’s occupant and the deployment area.
Famous Airbag Cases
The Takata airbag is the biggest case that has ever existed. In April 2013, it was found that these airbags may not deploy properly and in the event of an accident, can shoot metal fragments into the vehicle. In the United States, nearly 34 million vehicles were affected and another 7 million airbags were returned by dissatisfied customers.
Can I file an airbag injury lawsuit and get compensation?
There have been cases in which it was confirmed that an airbag deflated in the absence of an actual accident or caused damage to the occupant of the during an accident. Some airbags have the defect that they can deflate and this can cause injury to the occupant of the car. It is possible to pursue lawsuits against an airbag manufacturer, but you will first need to prove that the airbag was designed in an unjustifiably dangerous way. In cases of defective products, this case will be included in the category of whether the car was “crashworthy” or not. In the event that you are involved in a car accident and have been injured by negligence, be sure to contact an attorney who can offer more advice on the steps you should take.
Reasons why an airbag cannot deploy
- The airbag could have a factory defect that prevented it from deploying
- The deployment signal may not have reached the airbag modules causing the airbag not to deploy when needed.
- Crash sensors failed to detect the accident due to a defect
- The accident may not have been the type of accident that is covered by the airbag’s deployment sensor.
The future of the airbag
Many automakers are looking to improve the technology and location of side airbags, reinforcing door frames, have also been introduced in seat belts and Ford installed them in one of its car models in 2011. More car models are expected to adopt this technology in the future. Research is currently underway to ensure that external airbags deploy in 20-30 milliseconds and thus save more passenger lives than in previous years. Urban airbags were introduced by Volvo in the special 2012 in the event of a car collision, this mechanism deploys a U-shaped airbag under the vehicle. It is currently optional and used in Europe, but more automakers are likely to adapt it in the US.