After seatbelts, airbag technology has been and still is one of the most significant automobile safety features.
Airbags are gas inflated cushions deployed in steering columns, roof rails, doors, and seats. These cushions discharge immediately in the event of a crash to protect the car driver and passengers. Understanding the safety benefits, the federal government passed legislation making driver and front passenger airbag deployment in cars mandatory in 1998.
Since then, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has tracked that airbag technology has saved an amazing estimated 28,000 lives. Authorities also state that the use of a seat belt and airbags installed in cars lowers the risk of injuries and deaths by approximately 61%.
According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, frontal airbags lower driver fatalities by 29% and fatalities of front seat passenger’s 13 and older by one-third.
Automakers and organizations like the Institute for Highway Safety are working relentlessly in the quest to further refining airbag technology. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) crash tests new model cars, rates them, and conduct related research before new airbag systems are deployed in cars and made public.
The success of their efforts, and automobile manufacturer’s alike can be gauged by looking at the suite of highly functional airbags deployed in new cars today. From frontal airbags to side torso and side curtain airbags, knee airbags, roof airbags, to rear-seat airbags, they are installed in a variety of locations to increase driver and passenger safety.
More importantly, automakers are not stopping here. More innovations in airbag technology are being introduced. Here’s a look at these innovations:
Knee airbag system features a smaller airbag designed to reduce lower limb injuries as they make contact with the dashboard. This system is deployed under the glove box on the passenger side and under the steering on the driver‘s side.
Introduced in many cars already, the front center airbag is deployed to provide restraint during passenger-side crashes and rollover accidents. It also functions as an energy absorbing cushion between the driver and front passenger. The front center airbag is deployed from the right side of the driver’s seat and is firmly position between front row seats near the center.
The inflatable rear seatbelt is a cross between an airbag and a seatbelt. It helps reduce chest, head and neck injuries for rear seat passengers – usually children and the elderly. The tubular airbag unzips and inflates immediately with cold compressed gas flowing through a specifically designed buckle from a small canister that is installed under the seat.