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Inadequacies and inefficiency overinflate the airbag market

With recalls abounding and the number of casualties climbing in the recent Takata airbag crisis, it makes sense to take a look at the safety merit of airbags, their evolution and what we can expect to see from them in the future.

The first airbags went into cars on an experimental basis in the early 1970s and several variations have made their way into production vehicles since then. Initially, the airbags were too powerful and may have caused more injuries than they hindered. But the technology behind airbags advanced and so did the product. Thus, thousands of saved lives have been attributed to frontal impact airbags.

However, airbags have significant limitations and only work in a way that can save lives when impact comes from a limited range at the front and front sides of a vehicle. Outside of whiplash, the most costly and common car accident-related injury has been beneath the knees, in the bones through the lower leg and foot. These cost time off of work as well as significant medical expense to repair.

Some of the inefficiencies and seemingly glaring oversights left by automobile manufactures have to do with the rear of the car and the precious cargo there that is in greater need of our protections. Decades have passed and no production vehicles have any sort of rear airbag designed to protect against frontal impacts. This is surprising, given our laws requiring our children to remain in the backseat when they are at their most diminutive sizes and weights. Testing of various frontal impact protections for backseat passengers has been positive. Reports show that 60 percent of the impact was absorbed by the airbags allowing passengers to fair far better.

The final two types of protection are the inflatabelt and the side-impact airbag. Both are not heavily anticipated as becoming a staple in car safety. There are liability fears around the inflatabelt and due to the side-impact airbags issues with rapid deflation and ripping, it has proven ineffective in multiple impacts or in rollover situations.

Still other airbags have been recommended for rear passenger seats and even for pedestrian accidents.

With so many types of protection available, it is a testament to the response time for the automobile industry that so few cars come equipped with the types of devices proven to be most effective in their design to protect and minimize injury.

If you have been injured in an automobile accident and you were either unprotected by an airbag or were further damaged by your airbag, you likely have a good case for compensation. A Texas attorney well-versed in car accidents may be able to advise you on your particular situation and the circumstance surrounding it.

Source:, "Why Airbag Shortcomings Will Jeopardize Vehicle Safety for the Next 10 Years," E. Todd Tracy, May 17, 2016

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