Volvo has designed an airbag that’s not intended to protect the driver or passengers in a car, but that’s instead designed to protect pedestrians who get hit. This particular airbag is only one recent instance where manufacturers have been taking the concept further than it has been taken before.
An impressive record.
Airbags have been demonstrated to reduce the likelihood of forward-collision fatalities by 61% when used in conjunction with a safety belt. A safety belt alone only reduces the chances of being killed in the same type of crash by 50%. That figure is nothing to scoff at, for certain, but the extra 11% survival rate that airbags add makes them standard additions to most car designs these days.
Airbags typically deploy out of the doors, dash and steering wheel. In some cars, there are additional airbags that cover the windows and prevent shattered glass injuries due to side impacts. They’re effective, economical and greatly increase your chances of surviving a bad wreck.
The new airbags.
Volvo’s pedestrian airbag is designed for front-end auto-pedestrian crashes (a pedestrian or bicyclist struck by a vehicle). If the car detects a pedestrian crossing in front of it, it alerts the driver and automatically applies the brakes. If the worst happens, the car performs other actions designed to prevent the pedestrian from being killed or serious injured. The hood of the car automatically lifts up, shielding the pedestrian from the majority of the windshield and providing a safer landing platform. At the same time, an airbag deploys over the hood and windshield of the car, reducing the chances that the pedestrian will be seriously injured.
There are other designs in the works, as well, including airbags that deploy not to protect passengers or pedestrians from striking hard surfaces but that are actually designed to reinforce the integrity of the car to prevent structural collapses during a roll over.
Some of these designs really do demonstrate that car manufacturers and regulators are working hard to find new ways to protect passengers and pedestrians involved in car accidents. There are cases, however, where air bags that are defective can cause serious injuries or deaths, either from unneeded deployments or because they fail when they are needed. In such cases, calling a defective airbag attorney to see if you have a good chance of winning a lawsuit is something to consider.