Air bag deployed in car

How Serious Does a Collision Have to Be for Airbags to Deploy?

When you hear about a car accident in which the airbags inflated, you might assume that the crash involved high speeds or a significant impact, but that is not always the case. A New Jersey personal injury attorney can talk to you about your collision and handle your personal injury claim. 

Let’s talk about how serious a collision has to be for airbags to deploy, and how these safety devices work. 

Moderate to Severe Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that airbags are usually intended to deploy in “moderate to severe crashes.” If you are in a frontal or near-frontal collision, a moderate to severe crash would be similar to striking a solid, fixed object at 8 to 14 mph or more. 

If hitting a movable object like a parked car, a moderate to severe crash would involve 16 to 28 mph or more. In other words, merely creeping along in a parking lot and looking for a parking space could be a speed high enough to deploy an airbag.  

How Air Bags Work

All passenger cars sold in the United States since the model year 1998 have featured frontal airbags as standard equipment. Every model year of pickup trucks, vans, and SUVs sold in the United States since 1999 also have frontal airbags as standard equipment. Side airbags (SABs) come as either optional or standard equipment on many passenger motor vehicles.

The NHTSA explains that, at the instant of a collision that is moderate to severe, the airbag system’s electronic control unit sends a signal to an inflator component located inside the airbag device. In less than 1/20 of a second, the airbag inflates because of a harmless gas inside the inflator.

You do not want to sit closer to an airbag than the designers intended because these safety devices inflate so quickly. The best way to make sure that you are in the optimal position for an airbag to protect you instead of harming you when it deploys is to wear a seatbelt and sit as far back from the dashboard or steering wheel as possible. Also, children under the age of 13 should sit in the backseat, and rear-facing car seat seats should not be used in front of an active airbag. 

Can an Air Bag Cause Injuries?

The force of the rapid inflation of an airbag can cause severe, even fatal, injuries if a person is located too close to the safety device when it deploys. Also, if your car or truck has a recalled airbag, a safety defect in those devices can cause them to explode and impale the driver or passengers with jagged shards of metal or hard plastic, even without a moderate to severe crash. Tens of millions of vehicles in the United States had defective Takata airbags installed.

If you suffered injury or a close relative died because of airbag injuries, whether from a recalled airbag or another type of airbag, you will want to explore your legal remedies. In addition, you might have a legal claim if your airbag failed to deploy when it should have. You have a limited amount of time to take legal action. A New Jersey personal injury attorney can talk to you about your claim. For legal assistance get in touch with our office today.