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The Many Faces of Motor Vehicle Airbags

Mar 11, 2016 - Car Accidents, Tuscaloosa by

When airbags first came into wide use in the 1970s, they took on a very basic design that protected drivers and front-seat passengers by sensing collisions and inflating large bags between occupants and hard objects in front of them.

Our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys are happy to report that the basic concept of inflatable safety devices has exploded. The chances are that an inflatable device now exists to protect many people who are exposed to dangers on the roads, sidewalks or just about anywhere.

Still, things can go wrong to prevent airbags from doing their jobs properly — or even causing injuries when they perform as intended. It is important to understand the potential pros and cons of these devices and what to do if they contribute to serious injuries.

New Airbag Designs Keep Coming

The unfortunate truth is that collisions with trucks and passenger vehicles can cause injuries from all sides. As injury statistics continue to reveal more and more types of injuries are faced by individuals inside and outside of cars, new devices are invented to help mitigate those injuries.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, airbags now take on many shapes and forms, such as the following:

  • Bags within cars and other enclosed vehicles are standard equipment in front of front-seat passengers and drivers, and side airbags are almost as common. New designs can protect victims of rollovers. Others address the needs of back-seat passengers, such as rear window curtain airbags that protect against contact with broken glass and flying objects. Inflatable seatbelts are even available to distribute crash forces over a larger portion of the body.
  • External hood airbags are designed to protect pedestrians who often strike hoods or windshields. These bags cover windshields while providing a cushion that reduces the impact.
  • Motorcycle airbags provide frontal protection to absorb rider motion.
  • Inflatable bicycle helmets are designed to replace traditional helmets. Worn around the neck, they inflate to protect the head and neck when their sensors indicate unusual movement that indicates a crash.

Of course, the invention of a new safety device does not necessarily guarantee increased safety for users. At this point, some devices can actually cause certain types of injuries for some individuals, while others may be defective, and many others have not been subjected to strong studies that would support their effectiveness.

Sometimes, Airbags Can Cause Injuries

As a general rule, anyone who sits less than 10 inches from an airbag can sustain injuries when the bag inflates, which places front-seat occupants of shorter stature at risk. Perhaps more disturbing are the many airbag recalls that pertain to tens of millions of cars equipped with bags manufactured by one company.

Some of the bags reportedly exploded and cause shrapnel injuries; others deployed unexpectedly in more humid environments. The results of these accidents have been known to be deadly.

Even though auto manufacturers attempt to take immediate recall action to keep consumers safe, new reports continue to come in 2016, which indicate that the full impact of the defective airbags is still unknown.

All car owners should consider calling car dealerships or manufacturers to find out if their vehicles are safe. In the event that an airbag causes injury, of course, seek legal advice.

Additional Resources

Honda recalls 5 million cars as airbag woes spread, CNN Money, May 14, 2015

Other Blog Topics:

Tuscaloosa Car Accident Attorneys Say Auto Safety Features May Increase Accident Risks For Alabama Drivers, Tuscaloosa Car Accident Blog

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