Since the airbag became a required safety feature in the 1980s they have become an important factor in decreasing the injuries of those involved in automotive accidents. Combined with seat belts, airbags reduce the chance that the driver or passenger’s upper body or head will strike the vehicle’s interior during a crash. Unfortunately, air bag systems were developed for the 5 ft 8 inch, 180 pound male and have only been tested to meet their physical needs. For the rest of us who don’t fit that description we are at risk if we sit closer to the steering wheel, drive with children in the front seat or have medical conditions which can make an exploding air bag potentially fatal.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 1.4 million recalls in 2004 were related to air bag safety problems.
How Do Airbags Injure?
Basically, airbags are designed to deploy when a vehicle moving forward decelerates quickly. Most airbag systems are created to sense vehicle deceleration and frontal collision at speeds in excess of 20 to 25 mph. Sometimes, airbags deploy at the wrong time and can even fail to deploy altogether.
When airbags fail to deploy, passengers incur injuries that could have been prevented. With the rapid production of airbags there has been a corresponding reduction in the severity of some crash-related injuries. After all, no one would argue that many lives have been saved by airbags which function properly. Unfortunately with the slow progression of the technology involved in producing airbags, there has been an alarming increase in the number of injuries and fatalities reported as the result of airbags failing to deploy.
Causes of Airbag Related Injuries:
- Air bag impact (airbags detonate with around 2,000 pounds of force at speeds that can exceed 200 miles per hour)
- Airbag deploys at the wrong time
- Airbag does not deploy at all at the time of an accident
Adult drivers and passengers can suffer brain, head, and neck injuries. The elderly and others with medical conditions such as osteoporosis, heart conditions, dialysis and Crone’s disease are at greater risks from exploding air bags.