Airbag Innovations That Keep Drivers Safe [Infographic]

Airbag innovations could help increase passive driver safety and reduce fatality rates from car accidents. New vehicles are being equipped with knee airbags, front center airbags, or inflatable seatbelts to minimize the risk of injury.

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Airbag Innovations


Airbags Statistically Reduce Driver Fatalities

Airbags have proven to reduce the likelihood of driver death in frontal car crashes by 29 percent, and by 32 percent for front-seat passengers who are 13 and older, says the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Most new vehicles come with frontal airbags, side torso airbags, side curtain airbags, and, in some cases, they also feature rear-seat airbags. However, some vehicles are being equipped with new airbag features.

Knee Airbags to Reduce Lower Limb Injuries

Installed under the steering column in the footwell and under the glovebox, knee airbags are designed to reduce injuries to the lower limbs. They have also been shown to reduce head and chest injuries as they ensure the occupant remains in the right position to maximize the protection of the frontal airbag.

The 2015 Ford Mustang, for example, features a newly designed knee airbag that is wedged between the outer and inner glovebox door panels. In a crash, the airbag inflates and pushes the outer door panel of the glove box towards the passenger’s legs. This system is 65 percent lighter than a traditional airbag and ensures the passenger has more legroom.

Front Center Airbags Minimize Injuries in Rollover Accidents

Front center airbags inflate between the two front seats and are designed to restrain the driver in the event of a passenger-side crash when there is no passenger. They also act as a buffer between the driver and the passenger and have been shown to minimize injuries if the vehicle rolls over.

According to the NHTSA, 29 percent of all front-occupant fatalities are the result of far-side impact accidents, i.e. when the occupant is on the side of the vehicle that hasn’t been struck.

Vehicles equipped with this type of airbag include the 2013 Buick Enclave, the Chevrolet Traverse, and the GMC Acadia.

Inflatable Seat Belts Reduce Head, Neck and Chest Injuries for Rear Passengers

Inflatable seat belts are a combination of an airbag with a seat belt. They are designed to minimize head, neck, and chest injuries for passengers in the rear of the car.

Vehicles equipped with inflatable seatbelts include the 2011 Ford Explorer, the Flex, the Lincoln, and a number of other Ford vehicles.