We'll be going over the safety features of your car - the good, the bad, and what you need to know. Tune in to our Facebook page to follow the feature! This month, we'll start with Airbags -- they are the biggest reason you need to keep your children in the back seat! Front airbags have been standard on all new cars since 1998 and light trucks since 1999. Most vehicles had them even before then. Crash sensors connected to an onboard computer detect a frontal collision and trigger the bags. The bags inflate in a few milliseconds—the blink of an eye—then immediately start deflating. While airbags have saved thousands of lives, they also have the potential to cause injury or even death to children or to occupants who aren’t using a seatbelt. Children under 12 should be seated in the rear in an appropriate restraint system and rear-facing child seats should never be installed in front seats equipped with airbags.
While we're talking about children, don't dress them in puffy coats (better to just use layers or a car blanket) for children in car seats, this winter, as the "puff" deflates in an accident and when it compresses the child can more easily slide out of the seat.
Adaptive, or dual-stage front airbags, introduced in 2003, became standard across the board by the 2007 model year. Most airbag systems now detect the presence, weight, and seat position for the driver and front passenger, and deactivate or de-power front airbags as appropriate to minimize the chance of injury to drivers positioned close to the wheel, out-of-position occupants or children.
Side airbags. Torso protecting side-impact airbags for front-seat passengers are also nearly universal, and some automakers offer side airbags for rear-seat passengers, as well. Side airbags are fairly small cushions that pop out of the door trim or the side of the seatback. They help protect the torso, but most aren’t effective in protecting the head. Nearly all new models today also include additional “side curtain” bags that deploy from above the windows and cover both front and rear side windows to prevent occupants from hitting their heads and to shield them from flying debris. A curtain bag often also stays ‘inflated’ longer in most cases to also keep people from being ejected during a rollover or a high-speed side crash. The better head-protection systems deploy the side-curtain bags if the system detects that the vehicle is beginning to roll over.