A Brief History of Airbags in the US

Here’s a statistic from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that you should let sink in for a moment: it is estimated that 18,319 people are alive today because of their airbags. Whether you’re a driver of a sedan, sports car, truck or a big rig, airbags are an integral aspect of owning a vehicle and being a motorist on the road.

Airbags have been around for a long time. Just like seatbelts, airbags are used to protect passengers in case of a crash. It works as a soft pillow to land if and when a crash occurs. Airbags were first introduced in airplanes and commercial airbags in automobiles were introduced in the 1980s. Over the years, airbags have been thoroughly tested and researched.

As of 1998, all new models of cars in the United States were required to have airbags on the driver and passenger sides – driver’s side airbags for trucks began to appear in 1995 and passenger airbags popped two years later.

Airbags are extremely important for the safety of the driver and the passenger. Statistics indicate that airbags can reduce the risk of dying by almost 30 percent. Airbags are quite effective in protecting one in a crash. When an accident occurs, an airbag slows down the passenger’s speed to zero thus resulting in little or no damage. Due to the effectiveness of airbags, cars today come well-equipped with seat-mounted and door-mounted airbags as well as dual airbags. Some cars today have six to eight airbags.

Airbags are built into steering wheels and dashboards as well as on the sides of vehicles. In case of a fast deceleration, the airbags are activated automatically. Today, several car manufacturers offer side-mounted airbags for front seat passengers while only a few offer them in the rear seat. Some come equipped with roof-mounted systems and airbags come down along the window while others offer door-mounted systems that break out of the armrest or the door. There are also vehicles that have seat-mounted airbag systems that come through the side of the seat back cushion.

One important thing to remember when talking about airbags is the fact that children who lean against a side airbag can be injured but those who are away from the path of the side air bag and are correctly restrained are not at risk.

Airbags have become so important to the vehicle manufacturing and car ownership process that in some states across the country it has become illegal to sell or install a counterfeit or non-functional airbag in an automobile. In Connecticut, for instance, it will be a criminal offence for anyone to install, manufacture, import, reinstall, or sell counterfeit airbags in The Nutmeg State.

“This is a public safety issue that automakers take seriously, and we are pleased that Connecticut took the lead,” said David Bauer, Global Automakers’ manager of State Relations, in a statement. “We hope that people will now think twice before knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, selling, or installing fake airbags.”

Auto Novice

Auto Novices is a blog, that was set up in November 2011, which tries to help inform new & old automobile owners about various subjects from keeping their car in good working order right through to tips on buying a new & used motorbikes. GUEST POSTS: If you would like to produce a guest post for this blog then please contact us via the link in the navigation menu at the top of the page.