How Serious Does a Collision Have to Be for Airbags to Deploy?

How Serious Does a Collision Have to Be for Airbags to Deploy?

By: Ruben DavidoffJune 12, 2024
How serious does a collision have to be for airbags to deploy

Airbags are a critical safety feature in vehicles that protect passengers during a collision. They deploy in serious accidents to cushion the impact between the person and the vehicle's steering wheel, dashboard, and sides.

Understanding when and how airbags deploy can help you appreciate the technology and its purpose in car safety. Davidoff Law believes drivers and passengers should know what to expect in different crash scenarios.

Airbag deployment is not just about the collision's severity; it also depends on specific conditions, such as the angle of impact and the speed at which the accident occurs. Airbags are designed to deploy in moderate to severe crashes, but the exact conditions vary widely.

The systems used to trigger airbag deployment are sophisticated, relying on sensors that assess the nature of the collision. These details can clarify airbags' role in vehicle safety and injury prevention.

Why Airbags Matter

Airbags save lives and are one of automotive technology's most important safety advances. In a crash, they deploy to reduce the risk of serious head and upper body injuries by providing a cushion that lessens the impact. The effectiveness of airbags in saving lives and reducing catastrophic injuries is well-documented and widely recognized.

Furthermore, airbags are designed to work with seat belts, not replace them. Seat belts help position passengers to maximize the benefit of airbags and prevent ejection from the vehicle.

Therefore, always wearing your seat belt is essential, even in vehicles with multiple airbags. Remember, airbags are an additional layer of safety that works best when combined with properly worn seat belts.

Types of Airbags in Modern Vehicles

  • Frontal airbags. This airbag inflates from the steering wheel and dashboard to protect occupants during front-end collisions.
  • Side airbags. Under the side of the seat or door, side airbags protect the torso during side-impact crashes.
  • Curtain airbags. These deploy from the roof to cover the windows, protecting passengers' heads during side impacts and rollovers.
  • Knee airbags. Located under the dashboard, knee airbags help protect the lower extremities from injury during severe frontal crashes.
  • Rear curtain airbags. These protect passengers in the rear seats during high-impact rear collisions.
  • Seat cushion airbags. These are deployed under the seat occupant to prevent submarining under the seat belt during a crash.

Conditions for Airbag Deployment

Conditions for airbag deployment

Airbags are designed to deploy when the sensors detect a collision that meets specific criteria of force and severity. These systems are calibrated to distinguish between everyday driving events, like hitting a pothole, and collision events that pose a serious risk to passengers.

Factors Influencing Airbag Deployment

Several factors determine whether airbags will deploy in a crash. These include the severity of the crash, the type of collision, and the impact location. The car's airbag system analyzes these factors through sensors throughout the vehicle.

Speed of the Collision

The speed at which a collision occurs is a major determinant of whether airbags will deploy. Generally, frontal airbags are designed to deploy in crashes involving a frontal impact at moderate to high speeds. High speeds result in more forceful impacts, which airbags are designed to mitigate.

Angle and Direction of Impact

The angle and direction of the impact also influence the deployment of airbags. Airbags are most likely to deploy in frontal and side impacts, which pose high risks of serious injury to passengers. However, not all side impacts will trigger airbags; the impact needs to reach a certain severity threshold.

The Severity of the Collision

Sensors that measure the force of impact assess the severity of the collision. For airbags to deploy, the collision must exert enough force to indicate a serious risk of injury to the occupants.

Minor fender benders, for example, typically do not result in airbag deployment because the impact force is insufficient.

Sensors and Mechanisms Triggering Airbag Deployment

Airbag deployment is controlled by sensors embedded in the car's structure. These sensors react to changes in velocity and impact force. When a collision occurs, the sensors quickly assess the data and decide whether the situation warrants airbag deployment.

Additionally, modern vehicles have cutting-edge algorithms that analyze data from numerous sensors to determine the precise timing of airbag deployment. This technology helps prevent unnecessary deployments in minor accidents, ensuring airbags are reserved for serious collisions where they benefit most.

Thresholds for Airbag Deployment

The thresholds for airbag deployment vary depending on the vehicle model and the type of airbags. Typically, frontal airbags deploy at speeds above 8 to 14 miles per hour when hitting a solid, fixed barrier.

In real-world scenarios, such as hitting a parked car, the threshold might be higher due to the absorption and distribution of impact energy.

Continued advancements in sensor technology and airbag design are constantly refining these thresholds. This ensures that airbags deploy only when necessary, maximizing the safety benefits while minimizing potential risks from unnecessary deployment.

Common Scenarios Leading to Airbag Deployment

Common scenarios leading to airbag deployment

Certain collisions are more likely to trigger airbag deployment due to the nature of the impact and the risks involved.

Head-On Collisions

Head-on collisions often result in the deployment of frontal airbags. These types of accidents typically involve high speeds and direct impact on the front of the vehicle, prompting an immediate response from the airbag system.

Side-Impact Collisions

In side-impact collisions, side and curtain airbags are likely to deploy. These accidents can be extremely dangerous, as the side of the vehicle offers less protection from the force of impact than the front.

Rollover Accidents

Rollover accidents can trigger curtain airbags. These airbags help protect the occupants' heads from hitting the side windows or roof, substantially reducing the risk of head injuries.

Rear-End Collisions

Rear-end collisions may only sometimes result in airbag deployment, especially if the impact is severe enough. Frontal airbags, however, might deploy if a car collides violently with another object or car.

Injuries Caused by Airbag Deployment

  • Facial abrasions. The speed and chemicals involved in an airbag deployment can cause abrasions or burns to the face.
  • Eye injuries. The force of an airbag can also cause eye injuries, particularly if the occupant is too close to the airbag when it deploys.
  • Broken bones. The impact of an airbag can break bones in the face or arms, especially if the arms are in front of the steering wheel during deployment.
  • Hearing loss. The loud noise of an airbag deploying can cause temporary or permanent hearing loss.
  • Respiratory issues. The chemicals released by an airbag can irritate the lungs and airways, leading to temporary breathing difficulties.
  • Cervical spine injuries. The force of the airbag can cause injuries to the neck and spine, particularly if the head or neck is turned during impact.
  • Burns. The chemicals and heat generated during airbag deployment can cause burns to the skin.

Legal Considerations Following Airbag Deployment

Legal considerations following airbag deployment

When airbags deploy, it often indicates a serious collision that may result in serious injuries. It's important to consider the legal implications of such an event, especially if injuries are involved.

Our team at Davidoff Law can help you understand your rights and options following an accident with airbag deployment.

Our attorneys are skilled in navigating the complexities of car accident law. We can help you determine if the airbag system functioned properly or if any malfunctions contributed to your injuries. Understanding these details is important for building a strong personal injury case.

Davidoff Law Can Help You Defend Your Rights and Pursue Compensation

If you've been in a collision where airbags deployed, you might be dealing with serious injuries and hefty medical expenses. Our personal injury lawyers at Davidoff Law are here to help. Our car accident law firm knows how airbags work in a severe crash.

If the airbag deployed, you might have suffered serious injury. Furthermore, the airbag systems might have to be replaced, which can be expensive. Let us protect your rights after a car crash.

Connect With Our Queens Car Accident Lawyer for a Free Case Consultation

Connect with our Queens car accident lawyer for a free case consultation

Don't hesitate to ask for legal assistance if you or a loved one have been involved in a serious car accident.

At Davidoff Law, we can see if the other driver or car manufacturer can be held responsible for your injuries. Contact us today for a free case consultation.

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