The Danger Of Air Bags And The

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The Danger Of Air Bags And The Proposed Improvements Including Advanced Air Bag Systems Essay, Research Paper The Danger of Air Bags and the Proposed Improvements including Advanced Air Bag Systems Introduction to Air Bags In today’s fast paced world, the amount of automobile travel increases more and more each year. With this increase in travel, there has been a much larger demand for safety in automobiles, and this includes air bags and other restraint systems. To put the use of airbags in perspective, since their mandate in the late 1980’s until now, 2.25 million driver-side air bags have deployed saving approximately 3,000 drivers. (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/airbags/). This number was calculated by a mathematical analysis of real-world fatality experience of vehicles with air

bags in comparison to those that do not have air bags. Based upon the same report, passenger side air bags have saved approximately 500 lives in 344,000 deployments. This report had a total figure of 3,448 lives saved (965 belted, 2,483 unbelted). (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/airbags/) Another report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reported some slightly higher numbers than that of the National Highway Travel Safety Association. This report goes on to say that driver airbags have been deployed in over 3.3 million automobile crashes and more than 660,000 passenger airbags have deployed while the front seat was occupied (www.highwaysafety.org/safety_facts/airbags/stats.html). Air Bag Death Statistics Based on a NHTSA report from September 1st, 1998, 53.0 million cars, or about

42 percent of all cars on the road, are equipped with some form of air bag protection. With the amount of cars on the road with air bags, the NHTSA reports only 113 confirmed air bag deaths. (www.nhtsa.dot.gov/airbags/). This number seems to be a tad “sugar-coated” if you will considering that the number given by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety lists 141 deaths since 1990 alone. These numbers are still not a great indicator of the danger of air bags because many times these deaths are considered not air bag related deaths but instead based upon the accident itself and the role of the air bag in the fatality is not quite known. This is a very frequent, and undeterminable scenario, so the true effect of air bags in fatalities cannot be known for sure

(www.highwaysafety.org/safety_facts/airbags/stats.html). Overview of Current Air Bag Problems As the numbers indicate, air bags have saved thousands of lives, but unfortunately this engineering feat did not come without its unforeseen detrimental consequences. One problem with air bags is that in the speed of a crash, they don’t have very much time to react and fully inflate to protect the passenger. Due to this need for a quick inflation, the air bag will come out of the in-dash holding area at up to two hundred miles per hour. This impact is amplified as shorter people sit nearer to the dash, reducing the distance the air bag travels before impact with the person in the seat, making the amount of the force much more than it normally would be to someone of “normal” size.

In some cases, such as this, speed of deployment can seriously injure the passenger, especially if the passenger is a small female or child in the front seat closer to the dash. This phenomenon is responsible for the majority of air bag related deaths, and is the most difficult problem to solve. Another problem with current airbag systems is the situations in which it deploys. There is a very distinct problem in determining the speed of impact that should warrant an air bag deployment, and this is not an exact science either as air bag deployment parts will malfunction or prematurely deploy. It seems to be a “tug-of-war” between setting it low enough to protect passengers and setting it high enough to prevent needless deployment and injury. We have all heard horror stories of