When airbags were introduced in vehicles some 20 or so years ago, many car manufacturers, safety and accident victim advocates considered it a big advancement in vehicle safety. Since that time, airbags have not only become commonplace, they’ve been expanded to include passengers and side impacts as well.
Although airbags have helped save countless lives, they do carry some risks as well, especially if the airbag is faulty. Certainly we’ve all seen the warnings on airbags regarding infants and the elderly. But if the airbag fails to work as intended, it can also pose great danger to drivers and passengers alike.
Injuries to the chest and torso are the most common but drivers and passengers can also sustain burns and more serious injuries to the neck area if they’re of a certain height. Faulty airbags can also prove fatal for some as well. According to figures from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, over 175 fatalities from airbags were reported between 1990 and 2000.
According to Raymond Bodiford, a senior partner at the Bodiford Law Group, failure to deploy, late deployment or accidental deployment constitute the main causes of injury from airbags.
“We have seen many people seriously injured because their airbags either did not deploy or deployed when they should not have,” comment Bodiford in an interview with Lawyers and Settlements.
And while many drivers are familiar with the risks of an airbag failing to deploy or accidental deployment, many are not so familiar with a late deployment, which occurs when there is a delay between the time of the accident and the time the airbag deploys.
“When an airbag deploys late it does not protect the occupant,” Bodiford explains. “It can actually cause additional damage because the force of the accident has usually positioned the occupant too close to the airbag at the time it deploys.”
One example of faulty airbags can be found in numerous Honda models built between 2001 and 2003. Thousands of Honda’s were recalled beginning in 2008 because of a defective airbag inflator on the vehicles’ driver’s side, which led to 12 injuries and at least one death.
Since the initial recall (…the last one occurring in December, 2011), Honda has expanded the list to include various Accord, Civic, Odyssey, CR-V, Pilot and Acura models.
Even though faulty airbags pose serious danger to vehicle occupants, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says they’ve also prevented many serious injuries and deaths in car accidents in Colorado and across the U.S. The agency estimates that of the 3.3 million airbag deployments, over 6,000 lives have been saved and countless injuries have been prevented.
And while airbags can provide an additional level of safety in your car, they’re no replacement for other measures of preventing or mitigating the effects of a car accident – namely, wearing your seatbelt and driving defensively.
Those two things alone can seriously reduce your risk of injury or death while driving.