Why Airbags Don’t Always Deploy (And Why That’s a Good Thing)

25-years-of-the-airbag_100223157_mAccording to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA,) rear-end collisions account for 23-30% of vehicle accidents every year. We know that airbags are an essential part of how car manufacturers keep drivers and their passenger’s safe, so, as a friend recently asked us: why don’t rear-end collisions set off a vehicle’s air bags?

In short: because while airbags help to keep passengers safe in many situations, they also have the capacity to do a great deal of damage.

In a head-on or side collisions, airbags inflate to dampen the impact for the vehicle’s occupants. Air bags are designed to deploy in such a way that passengers will make impact with them as the air bag begins to deflate, thus significantly decreasing the impact experienced.

But in rear-end collisions, passengers are likely to lurch forward with impact, meaning that an air bag could potentially make contact with their head as it expands at 200 miles per hour. In an otherwise harmless rear-end collision, an airbag deploying could cause infinitely more damage than the actual accident.

To ensure safety in the event that you are rear-ended, keep two things in mind. First, always be sure to wear and securely fasten your seatbelt while driving. A simple fender-bender can turn very serious without the use of a seatbelt. On a related note, always be sure to drive with the steering-wheel at least 10 inches from your body. This will not only allow the airbags to deploy as intended, but will also help ensure the seatbelt prevents you from making contact with the vehicle in case of a minor collision.

Winter means bad weather and plenty of places to go, so please join us in making safe driving a priority this Holiday season.