Car Safety - Evolution of Front Air Bags

Deployed Air Bags Car Accident Aftermath

Proponents of car safety have seen remarkable progress in the design, use, and effectiveness of automobile air safety bags since 1996, when air bags were first required by the U.S. federal government. Some of the changes and improvements included the following:

1 – Standards

Although common options included by U.S. automakers, air bags, originally referred to as SRS systems (Supplemental Restraint Systems), varied somewhat in the degree of safety and risks they offered.

2 – Original Air Bags

Early air bags, in large part, were considered as dangerous as injuries from collisions because of the power with which they deployed. Finally, after several air bag deaths from deploying air bags, federal laws mandated air bags that deployed more safely.

3 – New Technology

As technology advanced in the manufacture of air bags, newer bag deployment allowed seat sensors to determine the weight—or size—of the seat occupant. The front air bag was then deployed with a more measured power that was safer for children struck by the air bag as it deployed.

4 – Advanced Computers

In cars using these earlier air bags, computers sensed the weight of the seat occupant and adjusted the force of the deploying air bag. Later changes were made allowing the computer to sense not only occupant weight, but force of the collision.