Are Air Bags Safe for Cars?
Air bags are designed for frontal-angle crashes, the kind of impact that accounts for more than half of all occupant fatalities in passenger vehicles. Air bags are made to distribute the force of the impact more evenly over the occupant's upper body, stopping the occupants more gradually (Air Bag Safety 1). Even though air bags contribute and benefit to save human lives during car collisions, the question of how safe they really are is disputed worldwide. Air bags only supplement safety belts; they do not replace them (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration 1).
In America it is estimated that air bags have inflated in over one million crashes, saved over 1,700 lives as well as prevented more serious injuries (Air Bag Safety 1). Statistics from two American organizations that collect information on air bag safety, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, reported that for drivers who wear their seatbelts, airbags could improve the safety of crash survival by 21% (National Highway Transportation Safety Administration 1).
During a pre-crash breaking, unrestrained humans may be thrown against the vehicle interior, in immediate proximity to an air bag. Since air bags inflate in less than 1/30th of a second, drivers and passengers who are restrained or improperly restrained only wearing lap portion of safety belt, can receive serious injuries from deploying air bags (Air Bag Safety 2). An air bag is designed to inflate in a moderate to severe frontal and frontal-angle impact. The air bag will inflate only if the rate of deceleration is above the system's designed "threshold level." If a vehicle goes straight into a solid wall that does not move or deform, the threshold level is about 9 to 15mph, depending on the specific vehicle...