Airbags, airbag, DriveWrite Automotive

Airbag Explosion

Although most of us are pretty complacent about it, we should be aware that every time we take our cars out on the road we put ourselves at hazard. We should be grateful therefore for the automotive inventions that work to save us from a fate like death or something approximating.

It’s fair to say that motor makers have been a bit over-enthusiastic when it comes to car technology. Some of it is pointless, some of it superfluous and some of it just plain daft but some of it, thankfully, is brilliant. Seatbelts and ABS are obvious examples. So is the now ubiquitous airbag.

Now, I have been fortunate enough not to have been in an accident, at least not when an airbag has deployed. In a prang everything happens so fast that the extra pyrotechnics of these safety devices probably goes unnoticed and the first thing the victim realises is that he or she has got a face full of polyester or nylon like the Prisoner when he tried to escape. There can be no doubt now that airbags save lives.

The latest news is that the use of airbags in cars will increase because of tougher test rules by Euro NCAP. Potentially we could see as many as twenty three festooned around our motors like hidden party balloons. The reason for this is because road deaths – bizarrely and despite all the safety measures – have started to increase. As I have said before, I personally believe this to be as a result of falling driving standards so anything that saves poor drivers from themselves is to be welcomed.

The plan is to protect us from pretty much every injury and this sound like a fine idea. They will be internal as is usual; mounted, for example, in seatbelts and seat backs to protect head, knees and other bodily bits of both front and rear passengers. In addition, there are plans for external (triggered by radar and cameras) door mounted units when a side collision is unavoidable the aim of which is to lessen impact.

The new regulations will come into force from 2018 apparently and it seems that 23 could even be the magic number to achieve the full five stars. I’m a little concerned about the cost implications though both to the new car price and to insurance premiums as the repair bills mount, given that airbags can only be used once and have to be replaced. On the hand, what price safety? My own car has four airbags. I wouldn’t mind a few more given the driving standards I see when I’m out and about road testing. Geoff Maxted