Understanding the function and purpose of airbags

Sheen Panel Service on 14 December 2020

Why are airbags important?

"They kill more people than they save". You've probably heard this old adage applied to airbags many times before. But if that were true, then why are airbags such an important safety feature in modern automobiles?

This article has everything you need to know about the function of airbags, and how they will potentially save your life one day.

Sheen Panel Service is dedicated to helping you stay safe and protected on the road. If you've been involved in an accident that has damaged your vehicle, you owe it to yourself and your family to get quality panel beating before you get back on the road.

First off, statistics speak for themselves. Airbags are a key lifesaver in high-speed collisions — typically the deadliest events on our roads. The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), Australia's leading car safety authority, has compiled extensive research into the efficacy of airbags in crashes.

  • Cars with airbags have a 37% reduction in a car drivers risk of death in driver-side crashes.
  • Fatality risk is reduced by 26% when side airbags were used to protect vital organs in the torso.
  • Reduction in injury and fatalities by 51% to all body regions, 61% to the head, neck, face and thorax, and 53% to the head, neck and face.

Basically, airbags prevent injuries that would otherwise be catastrophic, often fatal. Read on to learn more about exactly how they work to keep you safe in the car and on the road.

How do airbags work in a crash?

Airbags work in a far more complex process than simply inflating to prevent injury. In simple terms, here is how the airbag circuit works:

  1. When a vehicle is involved in an accident, sensors pick up abrupt deceleration that is greater than normal braking deceleration.
  2. A signal is sent through the airbag circuit to a heating element, causing a small explosion.
  3. This explosion rapidly fills the nylon airbag with gas, expanding it to act as a cushion.
  4. The head and torso come into contact with the airbag. Due to this force, gas will begin escaping through small holes in the side of the airbag, deflating it.
  5. The airbag should be fully deflated when the car comes to a stop.

The deflating of the airbag is essential for safety. If the airbag was not to deflate, the body and torso would simply bounce off of it. That could lead to traumatic injuries including organ damage, internal bleed, and concussion.

What type of injuries to airbags prevent?

By quickly deploying and gradually deflating while the vehicle comes to a stop, airbags can prevent an array of catastrophic and life-altering injuries. These include injuries to the:

  • Head and face. Your head typically comes into contact with the airbag first of all. This protects your face and eyes from broken glass from the windshield.
  • Torso. Side airbags protect the torso, preventing damage to the ribs, organs, and soft tissue around the chest. Side airbags can also prevent spinal injuries and whiplash.
  • Extremities. Airbags work to protect the arms and legs. The legs especially have very little room to move, and benefit from additional cushioning.
  • Internal. Injuries to internal systems, like organ damage and internal bleeding, can arise in days following an accident. Airbags can help prevent the impacts that cause these problems.

Are my airbags safe?

As effective as airbags are, they are still prone to failure. In fact, tens of thousands of faulty Takata airbags were recently recalled after being installed in hundreds of different model of popular car brands. you can check the model of your car and what airbag it contains by visiting ismyairbagsafe.com.au.

Airbag failure can result in broken bones, internal bleeding, and even death. It pays to ensure that your family is protected. We recommend getting your airbags checked at least once every two years by a qualified airbag specialist. There's really no point in understanding why and how airbags work if yours are completely faulty in the first place.

Sheen Panel Service is here to keep you on the road with expert panel beating. Keep your family safe by getting your airbag checked, and we'll keep your car in pristine condition.