Airbags have been a technological breakthrough that all new cars today include to ensure a safer experience. In fact, since 1998, front-end airbags for the driver and passenger became a mandatory feature in all the new cars manufactured and sold in the United States.
Having something to cushion your body against the steering wheel and dash during an accident can prevent severe injury. Unfortunately, however, airbags have also injured thousands of people, and in some accidents, they have even caused death. This has had to do with the operation of the same airbags, with failures by the manufacturers, and due to people not wearing a seat belt or wearing it incorrectly.
The mechanism of an airbag starts with sensors that detect a sudden deceleration, which means that a collision has occurred. These sensors send a signal that activates an inflation mechanism where chemicals are burned to produce gases that inflate the bag quickly. It happens in a few seconds, so the force exerted by the airbags is tremendous. It is not uncommon for a person to be burned or injured after an airbag has been deployed.
The most vulnerable people in the face of this enormous force can be children, the elderly, and young adults who cannot withstand this colossal pressure. Because of this, children must always go in the back seats and be protected in their own seats, and although there are airbags in the back seats, they tend to be lateral and not frontal.
Now imagine that force unfolding in front of you, and you holding something in your hand, be it a cell phone, food, or anything else. The consequences can be severe. In fact, it is estimated that between 1990 and 2008, airbags caused around 290 deaths. However, it was also noted that in many of these cases, the cars involved had been manufactured before 1998.
Automakers have worked hard to improve airbags, and we’ve come a long way, but remember that you, too, should take precautions and stay safe.