Airbags can save our lives in car accidents, but they could end up doing significant damage in the process.
Airbags are standard equipment in over 100 million cars around the world, and responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives. Don’t let these statistics fool you though, airbags can be quite dangerous in certain situations.
The way they work is quite simple. Airbags are built with a highly sensitive accelerometer that is able to detect rapid changes in speed. If the accelerometer registers a deceleration in speed that is greater than that of normal breaking, it triggers the the airbag to go off, often in a violent manner. This controlled mini-explosion can happen in as quick as 20 to 30 milliseconds.
As you can imagine, when an airbag inflates with such high velocity it could do some serious damage to whoever it’s suppose to protect. These are a few ways in which an airbag could potentially injure you when triggered.
Face injuries: When your face is struck by the full force of the airbag, the violent impact could damage your retinas or cause temporary blindness. Reports of broken noses aren’t unheard of either. Symptoms of a broken nose include swelling, bleeding, bruising under the eye, and difficulty breathing.
Chest injuries: In order to stop your entire body from being thrown out of the vehicle, the airbag needs to deploy in a fast, reliable manner. Unfortunately this means your chest area is going to take most of the force. This sudden impact could result in broken ribs, and damage to the soft tissue that surrounds your vital organs.
Neck and back injuries: Whilst airbags are meant to save your life, ironically they can also cause damage that you’ll have to deal with for the rest of your life. Back-spasms and joint-displacement are common injuries caused. These injuries can potentially require years of physical therapy to over-come. There are also cases of paralysis in extreme cases.
Burns and abrasions: A chemical compound called sodium aside is used in airbags to ensure they inflate quickly upon impact. It’s this chemical that can cause burns or skin irritations for some people. The thin nylon material that houses this chemical reaction (the airbag itself) can also cause scrapes and cuts along the victims arms and face.
Despite having the potential to injure you in a multitude of different ways, airbags are undoubtedly one of the safest features we have in our cars. They have been found to reduce fatalities in head-on collisions by 24 percent, and as the technology improves, so does this percentage.