Airbags — The Difference between Life and Death

Oct 29, 2020

Airbags are not perfect, but they are better than the next best thing. Airbags were actually invented back in the 1950s but it took a long time for them to become standard equipment or even a common accessory for most cars and light trucks. Today almost all cars and light trucks have airbags as standard equipment and not just for front-seat passengers.

Airbags do save lives and serious injury to the people driving and riding in vehicles that are involved in car accidents. There isn’t any question about it. However, the rapid deployment of an airbag can also CAUSE injury and even death in some cases. Airbags are particularly dangerous to infants, children, and small adults. Recently, manufacturers have begun to offer a button that can prevent the airbag from deploying when a child or small adult is riding in the front passenger seat.

The basic principle of an airbag that is deployed when a vehicle is impacted is to prevent the driver’s and front-seat passenger’s heads from hitting parts of the interior of the vehicle and to distribute the force of the impact more evenly across the bodies of the driver and the passengers. It is estimated that fatalities in car accidents have been reduced by as much as 46 percent, although accurate figures are elusive.

When a vehicle is impacted, it takes about 1/20 of a second for an airbag to deploy. That is less time than it takes to blink twice. An airbag deflates almost as quickly as it inflates. Airbags deflate in approximately 3/10 of a second. Airbags are not filled with air, however. They are actually filled with a gas. It’s pretty obvious why they aren’t called “gasbags.”
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