Skip navigation
241 Visits Today

How to live with airbags

  • image

    Airbags are not the first line of protection in a crash, they are a supplemental system designed to come into play when lesser systems prove insufficient to protect us in a crash.

Few could argue that the airbag isn't one of the great safety innovations in living memory...

…you only have to look at the death toll on our roads to know that the airbag has had a major impact on our driving lives. Early fears that airbags could cause more injury and disfigurement when they deployed than lives they saved have proved unfounded and they are now an accepted part of the safety arsenal of our cars.

Such is the acceptance that we now have a raft of airbags to protect us in impacts in all critical directions. Up to 10 airbags are mounted in the centre of the steering wheel, the dash, the seats and the roof along the tops of the side windows.

But there is still some misunderstanding of how and when airbags operate.

Airbags are not the first line of protection in a crash, they are a supplemental system designed to come into play when lesser systems prove insufficient to protect us in a crash.

'SRS' is the term used with airbags, it stands for 'Supplemental Restraint System', because the airbag provides a level of protection over and above the seat belt in a severe crash.

The airbags are triggered when a sensor, usually located in the centre of the car, determines a crash is severe enough to warrant their deployment.

Once that level of severity is reached it takes the front airbags 30-55 milliseconds to deploy, it can be faster in the case of a side airbag. To get a perspective on how fast that is, it takes about 100 mil liseconds to blink your eye. To ensure correct operation of the airbags it's important that they aren't hindered in any way. With that in mind it's important that seat covers don't prevent side airbags, those mounted in the seats, from deploying correctly, and we shouldn't place things like rugs and ornaments on the dash.

The driver should sit back from the steering wheel, at least 30 cm is recommended, and they should hold the steering wheel at the quarter-to-three position instead of the old 10-to-2 so their hands and arms aren't in the way of an inflating airbag.

Add your comment on this story

Indicates required

We welcome your comments on this story. Comments are submitted for possible publication on the condition that they may be edited. Please provide your full name. We also require a working email address - not for publication, but for verification. The location field is optional.

Share your feedback