Airbag in vehicle

What Are the Benefits and Risks of Vehicle Airbags?

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

Motor vehicle accidents can result in serious injuries. It was for this reason that a federal law was enacted in 1991, which required the use of seatbelts and “inflatable restraints” in all vehicles. Today, all cars, trucks, and SUVs that are sold in the U.S. must have front and side airbags. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), side airbags reduce the risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and in SUVs, by 52 percent. Still, there remains disagreement as to whether airbags are safe. Here are the benefits and risks of vehicle airbags.

Airbag Benefits

When a vehicle suddenly decelerates or experiences the force associated with the impact of a collision, your airbags will automatically inflate. Since it is full of air, the airbag helps protect the driver and/or passenger by:

  • Reducing the distance with which someone’s head can move forward and therefore the amount of force that it experiences. 
  • Reducing the likelihood that someone will be ejected from the vehicle or go through the window. 
  • Increasing the amount of cushioning around the head, neck, and spine of the victim(s).

Airbags ultimately help to lessen the impact on victims and prevent fatal injuries such as traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) and severed spinal cords. 

Airbag Risks

While airbags can truly prove lifesaving, they don’t always prevent collision injuries and can even injure someone when deployed. According to the NHTSA, approximately 300 people have died as the result of airbags. There are a few different ways in which this can happen. 

  1. Force of inflation

The deployment of an airbag can reach speeds of up to 200 mph. If a part of your body is too close to the steering wheel when the airbag deploys, it can result in internal injuries that can prove fatal. 

  1. Deployment ignition

Airbag deployment is a result of an ignition within the steering wheel that produces nitrogen gas. This is triggered by a sensor that can detect a collision and then send an electrical signal to the detonator, exploding and producing nitrogen filling the bag. However, sometimes the explosion can ignite different flammable parts of the vehicle, resulting in severe (and sometimes life-threatening) burns. 

  1. Talcum powder residue

The airbag has nylon fabric that must release from the steering wheel and is therefore coated with talcum powder. The powder deploys with force when the bag does and can sometimes cause asthma attacks and breathing/respiratory issues. 

If you have suffered an injury as the result of a collision, you may have options. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Injured in a Motor Vehicle Accident

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident due to the recklessness or negligence of another, it’s vital that you understand to what you are entitled under the law. With this information under your belt, you can make the important decisions regarding how you want to move forward. That’s why it’s in your best interest to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Texas personal injury attorney.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the impact that such an accident can have on many parts of your life and the importance of properly dealing with such negligence or recklessness. That’s why we will work to get you the compensation that you deserve. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.