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Aside from seat belts, airbags are the first thing drivers think of when it comes to staying safe on the road. In the case of a crash or collision, airbags coming to the rescue is a reassurance set in the back of many drivers’ minds.

But aside from the fact that they protect occupants on impact, most people have a lot of questions regarding airbag technology. At Collision 24, we think a healthy amount of questioning is due for such a complex safety system. Review some frequently asked questions about airbags and their answers below.

When did airbags become mandatory in cars? In 1996, airbags became federally required in US vehicles, though many car manufacturers had begun to adopt the inclusion of airbags into their designs by the late 1980s and early 1990s. Even so, since 1996, airbag technology has continued to make huge advancements in automotive safety.

How does an airbag inflate? The dormant science packed away in your steering wheel or dashboard is pretty neat. Airbag inflation all comes down to a chemical reaction that breaks down a compound stored in the airbag material known as sodium azide.

Cars equipped with airbag systems include sensors that activate upon a forceful exterior impact to your vehicle. In the case of a moderate to severe crash, this sensor is triggered and immediately transmits an electric signal to an ignitor within the vehicle. The heat from the ignitor separates the sodium azide compound into nitrogen gas and sodium metal, which quickly inflate the airbags.

How fast does an airbag open? Many people wonder how airbags can cushion the blow of a head-on collision if they don’t sense an impact until, well, impact. An ultra-speedy release is what makes this possible. To get airbags opened and filled in fractions of a second, they’re released from their safe-keeping spots at a rate as fast as 200 miles per hour.

Why are airbags dangerous to children? Comparatively speaking, first-generation airbags of the 1990s were worlds more dangerous to kids than the airbags equipped in vehicles today.

As mentioned in the explanations above, airbags deploy with incredible speed to counter the force of a crash. Back then, airbags that expanded at this full rate put children at risk for more hurt than protection, which is why children under 13 were always advised to sit in the backseat.

Today, many automakers have introduced advanced airbag technology that modifies inflation power in response to the size of the person sitting in the passenger’s seat. They’re often referred to as multi- or dual-stage airbags.

If Airbags Deploy, Visit CarTek Collision 

We hope our local drivers in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, Pasadena and Glendale learned a few things about the science behind airbag system abilities. Be sure to always practice safe driving, and if you’ve recently been in a crash or collision where the airbags deployed, contact CarTek Collision for vehicle repair help. We have licensed appraisers on site and operate out of a state-of-the-art facility where our auto experts can quickly restore your vehicle. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!