Let’s Talk About Airbags

Let’s Talk About Airbags!

Since auto airbags’ early times, vehicle safety enthusiasts have cautioned that airbags are to be used in conjunction with seat belts. Seat belts are still needed because airbags used to work only in front-end collisions happening at more than 10 miles per hour. Only seat belts could help in side swipes and crashes (although side-mounted airbags are common now), rear-end collisions and secondary impacts. Even as more and more technological features emerge, airbags still are only effective when used with your seat belt.

Like seat belts, the concept of the airbag–an inflated pillow that serve as protection in a crash–was controversial. An airbag’s goal is simply to slow the passenger’s forward motion down during a car accident.  The process begins with signals from motion sensors.  When one of those sensors detects a large collision-level force, the vehicle’s airbag inflation system receives an electrical pulse from it. Usually, that ignites a charge that produces a warm blast of nitrogen gas to drive the airbag out from the storage site.

It did not take long to learn that an airbag’s force can hurt those who are too close to it, particularly kids. Experts agree that kids aged twelve and under need to ride buckled up in a correctly installed, age-appropriate car seat in the vehicle cabin’s rear. There are ways to deactivate airbags, and we will get to that right now:

You can’t usually deactivate your airbag without installing a retrofit on-off switch. However, if a retrofit on-off switch is not yet available from the car manufacturer for your car, the United States government will authorize airbag deactivation on a case-by-case basis in various situations. If you are interested in doing this, check with the manager at Patrick Auto Body, a full-service auto body/collision repair shop with locations in Schaumburg and Naperville, IL for how to proceed.

A Quick Low-Down on Airbag History

When car makers began placing seatbelt contraptions in vehicles in the 1950s, people concerned about being “trapped” in their vehicles when accidents occurred. Despite early beliefs, however, many states have adopted seatbelt laws today, to make it so that at least people under age 18 have to wear them.

Around the same decade that seatbelts came about patent applications for airbag devices did. As early as the early 1950s John Hedrick from the United States and Walter Linderer from Germany applied for patents. Hedrick received a patent—U.S Patent #2,649.311–for his “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles,” while Linderer’s German patent #896312 was for a compressed air unit that was released by either by bumper contact on the driver. It was in 1968 that Allen Breed invented a “sensor and safety system.” This was the first electron mechanical automotive airbag system on earth.

In 1971 the Ford brand built an airbag fleet just to experiment. A 1970s Chevrolet automobile had airbags in vehicles sold only for government usage. A couple decades or so later airbags—particularly airbags for the front passenger and driver–became mandatory in every passenger car. Most all controversy of the airbag wore away as time passed.

We hope that this has been an informative article!