Road Safety Mayo website.  Click to return to the home page.

Airbag hazard

An airbag is designed to be fully inflated  by the time the occupants head makes contact with it.Anything else would be dangerous:a collision between a head ,moving at high velocityin one direction,and the bag,moving at a similar speed inthe other could be fatal.And accidents do happen - airbags have been implicated in some deaths in the United States.Since car occupants there are less inclined to wear seatbelts,the airbags are designed to inflate more quickly - and thus with more force - than those used in Australia.Australian researchers have found  no evidence  of death or injury caused by airbag deployment in over 100 investigated  cases.

Airbags can be dangerous to children and small adults - even when they are restrained by adult seatbelts - If they sit too close to the airbag or are not seated correctly when the airbags are not seated correctly when the airbag inflates.Moreover,rearward facing 'cradle' or capsule-type infant restraints should never be placed in a front passenger seat that is fitted with a airbag.In the event of a crash,the baby's head would be within the 'strike' zone of the airbag and the impact  could lead to fatal head injuries.All occupants of cars with fitted airbags need to be aware of the potential danger and ensure they are seated correctly.In Australia,Children and infants are more often buckled into the rear seat,which is much safer.

Despite the potential hazard,airbags have proved both effective and popular.Some makes and models of cars now have side airbags to help prevent injury to the head and shoulders caused by side impacts - which account for about one quarter of all crash injuries and 28 per cent of deaths.