Airbags sometimes seem to be fickle aspects of a vehicle that have a mind of their own. They also have an association of being soft and fluffy in their un-deployed state. When released however, it is a whole different story. Their explosion is engineered to be fast and efficient at stopping the moving force of your body from exiting the vehicle upon impact.

Why didn’t my airbag work?

Ever been in a minor fender bender and wondered, “Why didn’t my airbag work?” Well, movies and television have led us to think that they go off with the slightest bump – but that’s simply not the case.

Furthermore, your airbag isn’t broken because it didn’t go off in that particular instance. It is only deployed under very specific and monitored conditions that are designed with your safety in mind.

The typical 2.5 –cubic foot airbag deployment speed is around 200 miles per hour. It inflates in as little as 20 to 30 milliseconds. At 30 miles per hour an unbelted driver moves through the space between their chest and the wheel in approximately 23 or so milliseconds. Due to his space between the passenger and the dashboard – that airbag has a larger volume and takes more time to fill – hence the need for speed. [Source: http://www.caranddriver.com/features/the-physics-of-airbags-feature]

You can imagine that the force of the expanding airbag would be quite strong and therefore not immediately activated for any minor accident, due to causing more damage to you than if it didn’t deploy.

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