Airbags are now a common safety feature in automobiles, providing frontal and side protection for drivers and passengers in the event of a crash. In recent years, airbags have become even more capable of providing protection from the forces of a crash. How do airbags work, and how do they protect the lives of drivers and passengers?
Airbags first appeared in cars in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and were initially just a single driver's-side airbag. Over the years, the technology has been refined, and today an airbag system consists of several components connected electronically throughout a vehicle, including sensors that detect movement and impact.
When a crash occurs, sensors located throughout the vehicle detect the impact and send a signal to the airbag control module. This module instantaneously determines the severity and type of collision and calculates the optimal timing for airbag deployment. The module then triggers the inflator, which is a combination of a chemical material and a heating element, within milliseconds of the crash. The inflator quickly generates a non-toxic gas, which inflates the airbag.
Once inflated, the airbag acts like a cushion, providing a cushion that softens the impact of the collision and allows the occupant to slow down gradually. The inflation of the airbag also helps to keep the occupant in a neutral, response-ready position rather than allowing the occupant to be propelled forward or toward the side window, potentially causing additional injury.
According to mechaincbase, Airbags deployed during a crash must be properly replaced after a crash as they can no longer be used again. Airbags must be replaced by a qualified professional as the replacement of an airbag requires tracing electrical and vacuum connections, which requires specialized tools and must be handled correctly in order to not affect the sensors and system modules. After installation, the airbag must be tested under the proper conditions to ensure proper deployment.
Airbags provide significant levels of protection in the event of a crash and are designed to supplement the protection provided by a vehicle's seatbelts. Airbags significantly reduce the risk of serious injury or death, with recent statistics showing that frontal airbags reduce the risk of serious injury to an adult driver by about 30%.
In addition to frontal airbags, side-impact airbags are becoming increasingly common and offer additional levels of protection from side collisions, which can be particularly damaging as the side of the vehicle often contains less structure reinforcement and protection. Side-impact airbags consist of a cushion in the door or the seat, which provides protection to the occupant's torso and head. In crashes involving side-impact airbag deployment, head and neck injuries decrease by a significant amount.
Airbags are a vital and important safety feature in modern cars and are widely available. They are designed to supplement the protection provided by seatbelts, and when airbags are properly and professionally installed, they provide a significant level of protection in the event of a crash. Recent statistics have shown that motor vehicle occupants who use seatbelts and have airbags deployed are more likely to survive a crash than those without a deployed airbag.
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