Oct 21, 2015

Posted by in Automobile Accidents | 0 Comments

A step-by-step account on how airbags work

Apart from seat-belts, airbags provide an added layer of protection among passengers during a car crash. In the U.S., cars with model year 1998 and onward are all required to have airbags for front passengers. But today, airbags are not only limited in the steering wheel and in the dashboard, they are also mounted on doors and chairs; and they are a big help in reducing fatal accidents in every U.S. roads.

But how does this amazing car safety component work? Here is a step-by-step account on how an airbag deploys:

  1. The airbag is equipped with sensor that tells whether a crash has occurred. This sensor is equipped with an accelerometer (an instrument that measures acceleration) to detect sudden decrease in acceleration. When there is sudden, possibly fatal deceleration, the sensor will trigger the airbag circuit.
  2. The circuit will then ignite a solid propellant that would trigger a chemical reaction. This chemical reaction would generate a large amount of gas so fast that it would inflate the airbag within a quarter of a second.
  3. The airbag is coated with talcum powder so that it would unwrap seamlessly. Also, the airbag is made of nylon fabric with tiny holes on its edges. The airbag deflates as the occupant’s head pushes it down.

However, there are certain scenarios where airbags do not deploy. According to the website of Williams Kherkher (view website), defective designed, manufactured, and mounted airbags may malfunction in times of collision. Furthermore, an airbag may not deploy in any of these situations:

  • A frontal fender bender
  • When you hit a moving object (an animal or a moving pole)
  • When you have been involved in an angled or rear crash
  • When the direction of the force during a car crash is downwards (ex. when your bumper is lodged below a semis’ loading platform, or when you drive over a large pothole)

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