Does your vehicle have side airbags?
The Importance of Side Airbags
Side impacts are as common as they are deadly. They are second to frontal impacts as a cause of fatalities in passenger cars and account for around 29% of occupant fatalities in vehicles. Because of the minimal structure in between the passenger and the outside of the vehicle there is not much capacity to absorb the impact. Although seat belts provide a great deal of protection during frontal collisions, they barely provide any protection, if at all, for side collisions.
In an accident, electronic sensors send an alarm to the control unit which evaluates the impact and reacts based on the severity of the collision. Airbags inflate in a fraction of a second, protecting the passenger from the incoming danger. Side airbags are crucial to side impact collisions considering the lack of protection from the side of the car.
There are two kinds of side airbags: Torso and head protecting. Torso airbags inflate from the seat or the door of the vehicle and create protection for the middle of the passenger’s body. Because head injuries account for almost half of the life threatening injuries occurred in an accident, head-protecting airbags are even more important. Head-protecting airbags work to cushion the head from impact from all sides and can help prevent paralyzing neck injuries. Most of the time head-protecting air bags are now curtain airbags which drop down from the roof and cover the front and rear side window area.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that side airbags could save close to 2,000 lives every year if all vehicles were equipped with them. In the past, some have considered airbags to be hazardous because of how aggressively they opened, but side airbags have not been proven to cause or inflict injuries to adults.
Side curtain airbags now have added features such as rollover protection which equips the vehicle with a sensor that sets off the airbag when a rollover is expected. These rollover inflated side curtain airbags stay inflated longer protecting the passenger for the total duration of the rollover.
Whenever you are looking to purchase a new vehicle, be aware that some models do not carry side airbags or curtain airbags. Having this feature on your car could mean the difference between life and death in a traumatic car accident.