Airbags and Other Safety Features | Scott's Fort Collins Auto

Airbags and Other Safety Features

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A young, attractive male that is driving a car.

Many drivers know that airbags are in the car to help prevent deaths when crashes and collisions happen. Just how effective are they? Studies show that airbags can help reduce your risk of death by at least 30%. These are just one safety feature that are built into many cars. Others include cruise control, automatic emergency braking, rear-view cameras and more. These technologies, when used correctly, can help make you safer on the road.


Car Accidents and Injuries in the U.S.

At least 6 million car accidents happen in the United States each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s about 16,438 crashes every single day. About 37,000 people die in car accidents each year on average, although some years have fatalities reach up into the 40,000s. On a worldwide scale, about 1.3 million people die in car accidents each year, while 20-50 million are injured depending on the year. Safety features that are built into cars can significantly lower your risk for death and serious injury in an auto accident. The two best safety features you can utilize in your own car are airbags and seat belts.


Invention of Airbags

Did you know that airbags have only been around for a few decades? This is one safety feature that helped limit the fatalities that happened with car accidents. However, it wasn’t invented until 1968 by a man named Allen Breed. He created and patented a crash-detection technology that would deploy bags filled with air to cushion the body as it was jolted around in a collision. That initial invention was improved upon several times as certain types of air (like compressed air) was not able to blow up bags fast enough to prevent fatalities or severe injury.


In 1973, General Motors (GM) began selling the first cars equipped with airbags. However, they were only available to government vehicles during the trial period before cars for the public were sold with airbags starting in 1975. The first cars to have airbags built-in were Oldsmobiles and Buicks. Afterwards, airbags were deemed a benefit for drivers in preventing fatalities, and they are now a standard feature in every car you’ll buy.


A view of airbags in both the driver and passenger side that have been deployed.

Air Bags Are There to Save You

Air bags are just what you would think they are: a bag full of air to cushion the blow in a collision. Hitting your head against a steering wheel, window or other part of the car in a collision could mean death. Although hitting an airbag will still be a shock to your body, it cushions the blow much more than hitting something solid. When airbags were first invented, they were originally in the steering wheel area of the car. In your own car, there will be a main airbag in the steering wheel center. However, in many cars, there are side-impact airbags as well in case the crash happens from the side or back of the vehicle.


An airbag works through an “airbag electronic controller unit (ECU)”. This unit can sense a deceleration of the car as soon as it happens with a collision. They can even detect the angle and type of collision, which is why side airbags may deploy as well. That deployment happens in less than a second during a crash before you can even blink.

Seat Belts Can Save Your Life

Have you ever moved forward too fast while being buckled into your car seatbelt? You’ve likely had your seatbelt lock on you so you can’t move forward any further. This is a safety feature built into the car just like the air bag. When a collision happens, the airbag electronic system will deploy the airbag if the collision has enough force to meet the criteria for deployment.


At the same time, your seatbelt has a system to lock you in place so your body stops moving forward. If you’re wearing your seatbelt, this can prevent you from flying through a windshield or from bouncing around in a vehicle during a crash. The main goal of the seat belt is to prevent ejection from a vehicle during a crash, which can kill you. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that seat belts have reduced the risk of death by at least 45% in drivers that wear them. Your risk for serious injury also goes down by at least 50%. In many crashes, simply wearing your seatbelt could save your life, as not wearing the seat belt is a factor in many car accident deaths.


A young couple that is buckling their seatbelts before leaving in their vehicle.

Built-In Safety-Features in Most Cars

You will find seat belts and airbags in any car you buy, as there are specific laws regarding these two features. In fact, you can be ticketed in most (if not all) states for not wearing your seatbelt. It is that important to your safety. Since the invention of both of these safety features, others have come along to help keep you even safer on the road. The structural integrity of cars has also continued to improve over the years, especially with designs being made for cars based on crash tests.


Popular safety features in cars include anti-lock braking systems (ABS), seat belt pretensioners and electronic stability control (ESC) systems. Some cars come with cameras both inside and outside the car so you can see where you are going when backing up and the objects around you. Additional rear-view mirrors and magnified mirrors come with some makes and models of cars. Blind spot monitoring (BSM), intelligent speed adaptation (ISA), autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and even systems that connect you with emergency responders are built into cars.


All of these features are there to keep you safer on the road. Your car will come with many of the features you need to be okay in a collision. However, you need to do your part as well to keep all those systems and your car parts in good working order. To do that, call Scott’s Fort Collins Auto today at (970) 682-4202!

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