How Serious Does a Collision Have to Be for Airbags to Deploy?
Gregg Hollander | August 23, 2022 | Car Accidents
Airbags have been required safety features in cars since 1998, when the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 went into effect. Since then, not only has the number of cars with airbags increased but so has the average number of airbags in each car.
Airbags are designed to deploy in the event of a crash. However, not every car wreck will trigger airbag deployment. Sometimes this is by design; other times, it is because of a defect in the airbag.
Describing Modern Airbags
Airbags are inflatable cushions located throughout your car. They are safety devices designed to inflate in moderate to severe crashes to protect you and your passengers. When inflated, an airbag prevents you from hitting your head on hard surfaces in the car or being thrown about inside the vehicle in a crash.
There are various types of airbags, including airbags presently installed in cars and airbags that may soon appear in vehicles:
- Frontal airbags for drivers, passengers, and rear seat occupants
- Side and side curtain airbags that protect the occupant against the striking car
- Airbags that cover side windows and sunroofs to protect against damaged glass
- Seat belt airbags that prevent harm to your chest in a crash from a seat belt
Future plans for airbags include “pre-impact” airbags that deploy on the outside of a car upon sensing another vehicle’s approach. Airbags may also soon find a place on motorcycles, in motorcyclist vests, and on bicycle helmets.
How and When Airbags Deploy in a Florida Car Crash
Airbags are not designed to deploy in every crash. This is why your car’s airbags will not deploy in low-speed impacts, even in newer model cars. In these minor crashes, your seat belt is likely to provide you with all the protection you need to escape serious injuries.
Modern airbags use sensors and computers to decide when to deploy. The sensors not only detect the movement of the car during the crash but also whether you are wearing your seat belt. Most airbags in vehicles will deploy in impacts with a force equivalent to a car hitting a wall while traveling 10 to 15 miles per hour.
Sensors will detect if a car is traveling sideways in a crash, including whether the vehicle is tilting as during a rollover crash. This will signal side curtain airbags and side airbags to deploy. If the car does not sense this type of movement, these airbags may not deploy.
When airbags do deploy, they deploy in fractions of a second. The airbag will likely inflate before you are even aware that it has inflated. Speedy deployment of airbags is essential to them being able to provide you with protection in the event of a crash. Once deployed, an airbag may remain inflated for several seconds before deflating.
Airbags Can Save Lives When Working Properly
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that airbags saved 2,790 lives in 2017 alone. Moderate and severe car wrecks can exert tremendous forces upon you and your car’s occupants. However, airbags blunt the effect of these forces on you, especially when combined with proper seat belt usage.
If you were involved in an accident and your airbag failed to deploy, you may have a claim against the manufacturer, seller, or another party for a defective auto part. Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your accident and get help proving your product liability claim.
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