How Air Bags Work To Protect Passengers During A Car Crash

If you are looking for a Houston car crash lawyer, there is an excellent chance that you recently had a close encounter with an airbag. Airbags are designed to prevent injuries in the event of a collision. Depending on the vehicle, the airbag may be released from the dashboard, the steering wheel or other areas of the vehicle. Although these devices are exceptionally simple in design, airbags feature innovative technology. In order to be effective, the airbag must open faster than a car can crash. While you may be hitting another vehicle at 60 mph, your airbag is moving at a speed of 200 mph to keep up. To test an airbag, car companies employ crash test dummies. Obviously, real people would be too dangerous for testing, so an alternative has to be used. To make sure that the crash has not damaged the dummy, 130 sensors are attached so that carmakers can see exactly what happens in the event of an automobile accident.

The Inside of an Airbag

The entire purpose of an airbag is to expand as the car crashes so that it slows the momentum of the driver and passengers. This bag is made out of a nylon fabric, which allows it to easily squeeze into compartments inside of the car. Within this compartment, the airbag is hooked up to a sensor that tells the bag when it should inflate. Normally, your car would have to reach a collision force of at least 10 mph for the airbag to inflate. This is the physical equivalent of running straight into a brick wall. When this happens, the sensor flips a switch that causes sodium azide and potassium nitrate to react. These chemicals create nitrogen gas that inflates the airbag at a rate fast enough to prevent an injury. The entire process takes just one-twenty-fifth of a second to occur. Once the airbag has inflated, the gas inside of it quickly disappears from miniature holes that are built into the bag. This allows the airbag to deflate so that you can get out of the vehicle. After an accident, you may also notice a powder-like substance in the air. This is basic talcum powder or cornstarch, and it is used to keep the airbags pliable while they are tucked away in your vehicle.

Dual Stages of Deployment

Recently, a new design has created an innovative class of smart airbags. These airbags are designed to deploy at two different speeds and may not deploy at all depending on the information that the computer receives. Information from sensors beneath the seats and the seat belts let the airbags know the severity of the accident. In minor crashes, the airbags deploy at 70 percent of their full force. With more severe crashes, dual deployment occurs and the airbags operate at full force. Sensors within the seats operate to weigh the passengers, so the airbags only deploy if the passenger weighs a certain amount. This helps to prevent injuries from occurring among lighter adults and children.

The Physics of a Crash

When you consult with a Houston personal injury attorney, they will use the details of the crash, the airbag deployment, and physics to make your case. Like everything else on earth, airbags and car accidents are subject to the laws of physics. Basically, something that is heavier or faster will have more kinetic energy. If you crash into something, this means that a heavier car or faster speed will be throwing more force into the crash. Modern cars are made to crumple on impact and take some of this force, but vehicle design is not always enough. While your car structure is crumpling under the force of the crash, the people and items in the vehicle still have kinetic energy as well. This means that your car will lose energy and stop moving, but your body will continue flying through space. Seat belts will stop your body from moving, but your head will keep moving forward. In severe accidents, this can cause your head to slam into the windshield or steering wheel. To prevent this from happening, airbags are used to slow down the momentum of your head. As your head hits the airbag, the nylon bag deflates so that your head does not end up bouncing back into the seat. If you were recently in a car accident and this did not occur, you should contact a Houston auto wreck attorney to talk about your options.