Your vehicle is outfitted with a number of safety features like blind-spot mirrors, brake assist, seat belts, automatic emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, and more. One of the most important safety features in any vehicle is the airbags. In the event of a collision, airbags protect passengers from making contact with the inside parts of the vehicle—like the doors, windows, steering wheel, or dashboard.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), front airbags saved 50,457 lives from 1987 to 2017. Let’s take a look at how airbags work, how they protect vehicle passengers, and what happens if an airbag fails to deploy.
How Airbags Work
Airbags are considered supplemental protection because they work with the other vehicle safety features in the event of a crash. They are designed to work best with seat belts. Both the frontal and side-impact airbags are designed to deploy in moderate and severe crashes. Depending on the point of impact, they may deploy in a minor accident.
Frontal airbags are required in every vehicle. In the event of an accident, the airbag system’s electronic control unit collects information and determines how many bags should deploy. The signal is sent to the igniter, which starts a chemical reaction that produces a harmless gas. The airbag will inflate in less than 1/20th of a second.
Some cars are equipped with side airbags. These inflate even faster because there is less space between the driver or passengers and the striking object. Side airbags are generally to protect the head and chest.
Airbag Safety Tips
Airbag deployment happens so fast you often won’t realize it’s happened until it’s over. While you can’t control when and where they deploy during a collision, there are some safety tips to keep in mind to make sure your airbags are as effective as possible at protecting you from bodily harm.
- Wear your seat belt. Airbags and seat belts work together. If your airbags deploy during an accident and you’re not wearing your seat belt, you risk sustaining injuries from the airbags.
- Keep your distance. Drivers should maintain at least 10 inches of space between them and the steering wheel. This distance ensures the airbags perform optimally.
- Put kids in the backseat. Children under 13 should sit in the backseat. In the event of a crash, they’ll be protected by the side airbags. This is also assuming they are in a sitting in the proper child restraint system for their age and size—whether it be a rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat, booster seat, or adult seat belt.
- Airbags can only deploy once. Airbags can only be deployed once. If you’ve been in an accident and are getting your car repaired, make sure you have the airbags replaced by a certified technician.
Even if you properly follow the safety tips above, there’s a chance your airbags could fail. This happens for a number of reasons and could be grounds for a lawsuit.
Reasons for Airbag Deployment Failure
The activation of airbag deployment is contingent upon the characteristics of the crash, the vehicle airbag system’s strategy, and the crash sensor locations. Because of that, airbags are not intended to deploy in all crash situations.
If the crash conditions are mild or moderate, the seat belt could provide sufficient protection to the passengers, so the airbags wouldn’t deploy. In other instances, advanced frontal airbag systems automatically turn off the passenger’s side when the vehicle detects a small-statute passenger or child. This is why it’s crucial for children to sit in the backseat.
In some cases, airbags can be defective. When a severe crash happens and the airbags fail to deploy, significant injuries are likely. The victim has the right to hire a lawyer to determine if the manufacturer can be held accountable for the accident and the related losses.
Get Help With Your Car Accident Claim
If you’ve been injured in a crash, regardless of whether your airbags deployed, you’ll be dealing with medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. No matter the losses you’ve incurred, you have a right to take legal action if you believe negligence played a role in the accident.
The Law Office of Todd W. Burris, PLLC is well-versed in personal injury law and car accident claims. If you have a question about your legal rights or options or would like to move forward with a claim, schedule a free case evaluation today. We’ll listen to what you’ve been through, review the facts of your case, and help you determine how best to proceed to secure your future.