They save thousands of lives each year
Airbags, which were originally referred to as Supplementary Restraint Systems (SRS) have been around for a while. They were first available on Ford and Chevrolet cars in the 1970s and because of their effectiveness have since become mandatory on all new cars (in most countries anyway). South Africa has enforced this since 1998.
They are situated in the areas of your car that will allow them to provide the maximum protection to your body, in the case of an accident. These areas usually include the steering wheel, dashboard and sides of the vehicle. They are controlled by incredibly accurate sensors that measure the impact, acceleration and pressure that your vehicle faces.
These sensors have been calibrated to only deploy the airbags, if it detects a scenario in which the passengers may potentially be injured.
If the above situation occurs, the airbags work by setting off an explosive charge inside a chamber within the device. The explosive charge fills the airbag with gases produced by the explosion, expanding the bag in a matter of milliseconds.
This bag of inflated gas then cushions you from the hard impact you would otherwise face. The bag is also designed to deflate very quickly after it has been deployed, otherwise the impact of the airbag would cause its own damage or it would pop and not provide much protection at all!
Unfortunately airbags can only be deployed once and once each device has been deployed, it will need to be replaced.
Since the airbag is an explosive device, transportation becomes tricky. They cannot be stored on aeroplanes and as a result they become quite costly to transport. They also need to be stored in very specific conditions and experts to pack and double check everything.
As a result they end up costing an obscene amount of money to replace. Sometimes your car may even be written off by your insurers, as the cost to replace the airbags exceeds the value of the car!
According to the US Institute for Highway Safety, airbags have the reduced fatalities by the following:
In frontal crashes, frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29% and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 30%
Side airbags with head protection reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37% and an SUV driver’s risk by 52%
These results are based on real accident figures, assuming that the individuals involved were also wearing seatbelts.
Airbags can be incredibly dangerous to children, especially if a young child is sitting in the passenger seat. Children under 12 should always sit in the back seat, as airbags aren’t designed to provide protection for someone that small.
Some parents are advised to secure their infant’s safety seat onto the passenger seat, facing backwards. You should only do this if your car allows you to deactivate the front seat’s airbag! While it is not deactivated, you are essentially placing your child on top of a highly explosive device. When placed so close, the force of the device alone could be deadly for the child!
Again just to emphasize, seatbelts and airbags are designed to work together. If you don’t wear your seatbelt and your airbags deploy, they could cause severe injury!
However, while airbags may potentially cause harm – the safety they provide far outweighs this risk. They save thousands of lives each year – the reason that most countries have made them mandatory on all new vehicles.
Some interesting info about how your headrest is actually designed!