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Safety Talk: Airbags

All automotive vehicles sold in the US are legally required to be equipped with front and side airbags. Although the safety of airbags themselves has been a debated issue since the 1950s, a law known as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 required the application of inflatable restraints and seatbelt use to lessen fatalities and the effects of crash injuries. So why is it such a contested topic? And what are the pros/cons of airbags?


Airbag Pros

Airbags are made to automatically inflate in the event of an intense impact force that would indicate a collision. The bag gets expanded rapidly in the event to protect a driver and passenger by:

  • Adding padded protection around his neck, head, and spine.
  • Decreasing the force impacting a person's head by limiting the extent it can lean forward. 
  • Limit the risk that someone will project through a windshield or be ejected from the vehicle.

Victims could easily suffer from fatal injuries such as broken necks and other body parts, damaged spinal cords and nerves, or traumatic brain injuries without a functional airbag system.


Airbag Cons

Unfortunately, airbags have also caused injuries and even death. Here's how that's possible:

  • Deployment ignition - When your vehicle's sensor detects a collision, it transmits a signal to a detonator that essentially explodes, producing nitrogen filling the bag. In rare cases, this explosion can ignite gasoline fumes or other flammable contents of your vehicle, leading to burns.
  • Talc powder - Airbags are generally made of nylon fabric for easy release, and it is coated with talcum powder. The powdered cloud has caused some people to suffer breathing problems, asthma attacks, and other respiratory problems in some circumstances.
  • Inflation force - The speed of air bag inflation can be as quick as 200 mph. If your body is too close to the steering wheel when the bag deploys, you could experience major wounds or injuries.

It's difficult to conclude whether airbags are good or bad because their impacts vary from one case to another. Because there's been proven statistics that airbags have saved more lives than having taken them, they are necessary to be equipped in our cars. Hopefully, with the help of advancements, airbags will become more innovative and safer as time goes by.


For all your automotive services or repairs, please bring your car to Sil's Complete Auto Care Centre in Oakville, ON. For your convenience, you can schedule an appointment with us online anytime.

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