While airbags were never meant to replace seat belts, they are an excellent safety tool in a vehicle. On the downside, auto makers became aware in the early years of airbags that they can cause injury and death by releasing with too much force, especially affecting children and small adults. As this was discovered, changes were made, but the bags would then not deploy at all or without enough force, because they would not sense smaller people in the car. A study by NHTSA revealed that in 2007, 284 people died as a result of an airbag injury, with 180 of them being children.
Today there are regulations in place and technology has come a long way. Bags have better sensors, placement, and deploy in stages. Accidents can still happen, and the older your car, the more chance you have of having a defective airbag or one that will not inflate properly. Factors that can cause injury or death include:
Failure to Crash Test Appropriately– Crash tests should be done on dummies in a range of sizes from small child to large adult.
No Internal Tethers– Tether straps allow the airbag to open further from the driver and in a wide, flat shape, like a pillow. Without them, the hit is more direct and the shape is rounder, causing more damage.
Inflating Horizontally– This way, the airbag opens from the front of the instrument panel, that could seriously harm a child. A safer alternative is to inflate upward, and vertically.
Bad Crash Sensors– Sensors that go off at speeds below 15 mph can inflate without need, and others are not sensitive enough and fail to deploy at all.
Powerful Inflators– If the bag does not inflate in stages, it may be too powerful and seriously harm the passenger or driver.
Airbags should be protection, not a hazard. If you or a loved one has suffered an injury due to an airbag that was defective or not installed with proper safety measures taken, contact an experienced NY auto accident attorney today.