One of the major advances in automotive safety was the creation of airbags introduced in the 1970’s. In the late 1990’s, the use of airbags for both driver and passenger side areas became a requirement for all auto makers in the United States.
Airbags for passenger safety
The very purpose of airbags is to put safely the occupants during a crash and to provide protection to their bodies when they strike into the interior objects such as the steering wheel or the window. Airbags are normally designed to supplement the occupant’s protection who is tightly restrained by a seat belt. Nowadays, even side curtain airbags, tubular airbags and knee airbags are installed in cars to reinforce the passenger’s safety. In addition, some auto companies implement the use of exterior airbags to protect the pedestrians.
Front and side airbags
The very basic airbag is the front airbag designed to protect the a car’s occupants during the collision or impact, reducing the forces acting on them and preventing injuries to the occupant.
Just like front airbags, side airbags also reduce the forces of impact but on the different angle which is the side of the occupant. Curtain airbags or tubular airbags specifically protect the head from hitting into the side; at the same time the airbags mounted in the seat or the door protect the pelvis.
There are airbags still being developed designed to hold safely the driver or passenger in the event of a collision. An example of this is the knee airbag. Although a lot of vehicles have big padded knee bolster that protect legs from crash impacts, it is still lacking in safety. For example, a sudden stop sends a person’s legs flinging forward due to law of inertia. Or at times, when the car hits something, one area of the leg seems to be where all the force is concentrated. This may result to harsh leg fracture and injury to the hips or breakage of pelvis.
A knee airbag acts as a replacement to the bolster seat behind the driver. During the impact, the airbag immediately inflates and presses the occupant’s knee back against the lower part of the seat that keeps them safely in place. Other features or design of airbags slip away the occupants position away from the area of impact.
Before, knee airbags can only be seen in high class designed cars, but now even middle class cars have this kind of car safety feature.