How airbags work

Airbags. We’ve all heard of them and we all know that in the event of an accident, they can save your life. However, what many of us don’t know is exactly how they work.

In a crash at 30mph, the car stops moving but you continue travelling at the same speed. Even with a seatbelt on this means that your head could smack into the steering wheel at nearly 30mph – Ouch!

Also known as Supplementary Restraint Systems (SRS), airbags are designed to help the human body decelerate in the event of an accident and prevent it from coming into contact with potentially damaging hard points in the car.

An airbag consists of three parts. The first is a bag made of thin nylon which is folded into the steering wheel, dashboard, seat or door.

The second is a sensor which triggers the airbag, telling it to inflate, if a collision takes place over 10-15mph.

The third is the inflation system, in which sodium azide and potassium nitrate react to produce nitrogen gas, which inflates the airbag.

The whole thing happens in just 1/25 of a second, with the bag bursting out of the dashboard at around 200mph.

The bag is full of tiny holes, so as your head presses into it, it deflates, slowing your body down in the process.

It all happens so quickly you won’t even know what’s happened, but it can reduce your risk of death or serious injury by a third.

Posted in Driving.

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