What Speed Do Airbags Deploy?

Friday, April 26, 2024

What Speed Do Airbags Deploy?

Written by Malman Law, reviewed by Steve J. Malman.

If unbelted, the front airbag is designed to deploy when the crash impact equals hitting a rigid wall at 10-12 mph.  If belted, it will deploy at around 16 mph.

Airbags Statistics

Did you know that airbags are one of the most important safety innovations of all time? According to NHTSA, frontal airbags alone have saved the lives of over 50,000 crash victims in the last 30 years. However, airbags can sometimes be ineffective and cause injuries. For example, they may fail to deploy, leaving the occupants without protection. 

Airbags should become active when you reach certain speeds. That means the speed at which the airbags deploy is a key factor in legal proceedings. At Malman Law, we can assess the speed at which the crash occurred to determine the full scope of your claim. 

Read on to find out more about the velocity at which airbags deploy and the proper actions to take after experiencing airbag-related losses. Consult our car accident lawyers in Chicago if you believe you might have a case.

How Does an Airbag Work?

Many car buyers ensure their vehicles feature airbags to protect occupants during collisions. But have you ever wondered how airbags work?

Modern cars come with airbags that feature a safety belt sensor and an algorithm that is used to determine the speed at which the bag should deploy. If the occupant is unbelted, the front airbag is designed to deploy when the crash impact equals hitting a rigid wall at 10-12 mph. If belted, the airbag will deploy at around 16 mph since the belts will offer added protection during a crash, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

On the other side, side airbags typically deploy very fast, usually within 10-20 milliseconds of a side collision. They deploy at 18 mph for wide object crashes and 8 mph for narrow object crashes. Side airbags are also designed to deploy in serious frontal crashes.

The process begins with various sensors strategically placed throughout the vehicle. These sensors detect sudden changes in speed, deceleration, and impact forces. When a significant collision or crash is detected, the sensors issue signals to the airbag control unit to deploy the airbags.

Once the airbag control unit receives the signal, it triggers small pyrotechnic initiators. These initiators are essentially small explosives that quickly burn and generate gas within the airbag system. They ignite solid chemicals, such as sodium azide, which rapidly decompose, producing nitrogen gas which fills the airbag within milliseconds.

The airbag then deploys from its housing location, positioning itself between the vehicle occupants and the hard surfaces, such as the steering wheel or dashboard. This cushions the impact and reduces the risk of serious injuries by absorbing the energy of the occupants.

What to Do When You Suffer Injuries Due to an Airbag That Fails To Deploy?

The issue of faulty airbags has caught the attention of NHTSA. According to the safety agency, even seemingly minor crashes can trigger the deployment of airbags, which can throw deadly spray at the occupants upon exploding. Sadly, therefore, some of the fatalities witnessed are caused by these faulty airbags where victims should have survived. This issue requires sound legal representation to unearth the major factors surrounding the crash and file a product liability claim.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’ve sustained injuries due to a defective airbag, here’s what you should do:

  • Seek medical attention. Your health and safety are the top priorities. If you’ve been injured in an accident where the airbag failed to deploy, seek medical attention immediately. Even if you don’t feel injured right away, some injuries may not be noticeable immediately, yet they could worsen over time.
  • Document the scene. If you’re physically okay, gather as much information as possible at the scene. For instance, take photographs of the vehicles involved, the damage, and the visible injuries you or your passengers have suffered. Importantly, preserve the evidence related to the airbag system. It is recommended not to repair or dispose of your vehicle until you’ve consulted with an attorney.
  • Consult with an attorney. It’s in your best interest to consult with a car accident attorney to assess your defective airbag crash. They will evaluate your case, advise you on your legal rights, and help you establish the crash dynamics, such as the speed at which it occurred.

Contact a Chicago Car Accident Attorney Today

If you suffered injuries as a result of a defective airbag, you need to know your rights as an accident victim. You have the right to fair compensation for your injuries, losses, and suffering caused by a defective airbag. With the help of a personal injury attorney, you can assert those rights and win fair compensation. If this is your case, contact us today and let us assess your case for free.

Steve Malman

Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.

Years of experience: +30 years
Justia Profile: Steve Malman
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2024

What’s your case worth? Submit for a free case review

Related Blog Posts

view all news