Spannerhead Dot

Enjoy Spannerhead? Connect with us on Twitter and Facebook!

All About Airbags

October 9, 2016 by Our Sponsors


Some people were worried that they would be trapped in their vehicles when accidents occurred when car manufacturers began putting seat belt contraptions in vehicles in the 1950s. Despite early beliefs, however, most states in the United States have adopted seat belt laws today.

Like seat belts, the concept of the airbag—an inflated pillow to land against during a crash—was controversial. An airbag’s goal is simply to slow the passenger’s forward motion down as evenly as possible during a crash. The process begins with signals from motion sensors. When one of the sensors detects a large collision-level force, the car’s airbag inflation system receives an electrical pulse. Typically, that ignites a charge that produces a warm blast of nitrogen gas to drive the airbag out from its storage site.

Since auto airbags’ early days, experts have cautioned that airbags are to be utilized in conjunction with seat belts. Seat belts are still needed because airbags originally worked only in front-end collisions happening at more than 10 mph. Only seat belts could help in side swipes and crashes (although side-mounted airbags are becoming common), rear-end collisions and secondary impacts. Even as more and more technological features come about, airbags still are only effective when used with a seat belt.

It didn’t take long to learn that an airbag’s force can hurt those who are too close to it, particularly children. Experts agree that children aged twelve and under need to ride buckled up in a properly installed, age-appropriate car seat in the car cabin’s rear. This is also what the sales team at Bosak Honda Michigan City, a full-service car dealership in Michigan City, IN, recommends.

A Brief History of the Airbag

Around the same decade that seatbelts appeared patent applications for airbag devices did. As early as 1951 John Hedrick from the United States and Walter Linderer from Germany applied for some patents. Hedrick received a patent—U.S Patent #2,649.311– for a “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles,” while Linderer’s German patent #896312 was for a compressed air system that was released by either the driver or by bumper contact. It was in 1968 that Allen Breed invented a “sensor and safety system.” This was the first electro-mechanical automotive airbag system on the planet.

In 1971 the Ford vehicle brand built an airbag fleet for experimentation. A 1970s Chevrolet automobile had airbags in cars sold only for U.S. government usage. A couple decades or so later airbags—particularly ones for the driver and front passenger—became mandatory in all passenger cars. Most all controversy of the airbag wore away as time passed.

Did You Know That You Can Deactivate Airbags?

In certain cases, car owners can request the ability to deactivate their airbags. You can not usually deactivate your airbag without installing a retrofit on-off switch. However, if a retrofit on-off switch is not yet available (from the car manufacturer) for your car, the U.S government will authorize airbag deactivation on a case-by-case basis in appropriate situations.

Image credit:

Filed under: Sponsor Contributions

Leave a Reply