Physics of Airbags

Topics: Airbag, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Automobile safety Pages: 2 (566 words) Published: April 23, 2013
Airbags: Are they reliable?

In this modern era, unnatural deaths are not unusual anymore. With modernization, the number of accidents has increased, and car accidents accounts for most of the fatalities on road. With safety devices like seatbelts and crumple zones the number of fatalities is being lessened but the contribution of airbags are undoubtedly by far the greatest saviors of life during an accident. When a car is moving at a high speed, it will keep moving at that same speed and direction unless an opposing force acts on it (newton’s 1st law of motion). When the opposing force collides with the car, the car will be brought to an abrupt halt. However, the occupants inertia is independent from the cars, thus they will keep moving at the previous speed. This can be stopped with seatbelts, but seatbelts can only help to a minimally. Innovators of the motor-vehicle industry developed the airbag (1980’s). Airbags are made of thin nylon fabric, they’re folded into both steering wheel and desk board and more recently, also the seat and door. On the edge of the airbags, there are inflators filled with sodium azide (NaN3) and potassium nitrate (KNO3) that react to create nitrogen gas. Then, when the crash sensor senses a crash, it tells the inflator to release nitrogen gas, then the gas is released and the bag blows up at 322 km/h, in time to cushion the crash for the occupants. Seconds later, the air dissipates through tiny holes in the bag to deflate the bag so the occupants could move again. The airbag is not lessening the amount of car crashes. However, it is just protecting the occupants from severe injury. The air bag located at the steering wheel or dashboard protects the driver and passenger from any damage on their head, neck, chest or any part of the front of their body. Their sides however remained unprotected until the door/seat airbags came along. The door and the seat airbag protect the profile of the passengers. This minimizes all chances of...
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