Defective or unsafe airbags have been the cause of death for more than 250 people since 1990, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) started keeping statistics on this relatively new safety feature. Although frontal airbags are now standard equipment on all passenger vehicles sold in the United States, few vehicle models had airbags even 20 years ago, and the defects and failures of some airbag designs have cost the lives and well-being of far too many people.
Airbags are intended to slow down and stop a vehicle occupant's movement when the vehicle is in a collision. The airbag is supposed to deploy (i.e., exit its compartment and quickly inflate) upon the impact of the vehicle with another vehicle, a stationary object or a pedestrian. Airbags are meant to protect the drivers and passengers of vehicles not contribute to their injuries or death.
Relatively New Technology
The first airbags for commercial use appeared in the 1980s, and by the time the automotive model year 1998, all of the new cars sold in the U.S. were required to have airbags (on both driver and passenger sides). However, airbag technology is still evolving, and as new models and makes of cars, SUVs and light trucks continue to grow, some of the airbag systems and designs may still be inadequate or unsafe.
A Variety of Defects
The problems with airbags both front-deployed airbags and the new side-deployed airbags have been numerous, including:
Failure to deploy
Inadvertent deployment (airbag deploys at the wrong, unnecessary time)
Airbags use a complex system that involves a microchip-embedded accelerometer and a sensor to "tell" the airbag to inflate when there's an impact equal to hitting a brick wall at about 1015 miles per hour.
Airbags are deployed at up to 200 miles per hour, and if they deploy at the wrong place, or at the wrong time, they can cause a serious injury or a fatality.
Find Out More about Defective Airbags
It's very unfortunate that a safety device designed to protect someone can cause grave harm. If this has happened to you or to someone in your family, contact a law firm that represents people who've been injured by an airbag malfunction to learn more about your rights.