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Answers to Why Airbags Don't Deploy Like They Used To

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  • SWFD747
    Guest replied
    What is the likelyhood of these second generation airbags deploying during rescue. Any anecdotal evidence?

    Leave a comment:

  • rmoore
    Guest started a topic Answers to Why Airbags Don't Deploy Like They Used To

    Answers to Why Airbags Don't Deploy Like They Used To

    An upstate New York Fire Chief is concerned about why it seems that airbags just aren't deploying like they used to in serious crashes.

    Here's the Chief's question-
    My question is: Since the seminar we have had several accidents involving automobiles with air bags in various types of collisions head-on, rear end and t-bone.

    What we are finding is, that the newer car's air bags are not going off. We had a head-on involving a Taurus and a Nissan, the Taurus's bags deployed but the Nissan's did not. Both occupants escaped with minor injury.

    Last week a 2001 Ford Explorer t-boned a BMW. The Explorer deformed the BMW by about 1/3 yet it's SRS system did not deploy.

    Last night a 2000 Lincoln hit slush on the Interstate swung across 3 lanes of traffic hit the guide rail and bounced into the path of an 18-wheeler which hit it more or less head-on then the Lincoln continued to the lane it was in originally in and hit the inside rail. No injuries but the entire front of the Lincoln was torn away up to the radiator.

    Is there any explanation for the nondeployment of the SRS? Or are these bags simply smarter than we are? In each instance the occupants of the air-bag equipped vehicle was able to walk away but the impacts have been substantial. Explorer 40 MPH. Lincoln unknown but the Semi driver told me he was unable to scrub off much speed before impact, in fact he could not stop until about 1/4 mile up the road and did not know how the occupants of the Lincoln were until I found him to tell him.

    Your input is appreaciated.

    My reply-

    You and many others are experiencing the end result of changes in airbag technology, vehicle design, insurance company economic pressures, and modern-day crash dynamics. SMART airbag technology is part of the equation. Refer to my February 2001 Firehouse magazine article on the BMW SMART bags for a recent update. Also to blame is changes in vehicle 'crumple zones' and construction
    techniques and materials. In addition, you also now see stickers on the new vehicle windows "second generation airbags" or depowered airbags. Insurance companies want the cost of repairing a vehicle to be as small as possible for their own economic profitability.

    All these factors and more result in us not seeing airbag deployment in what we think should have been high-speed, hard-impact crashes.

    All I can say is that in each particular incident like you mentioned, things just didn't add up in the right combination to fire off the bags.

    What can we learn from these new experiences? Two things come to mind. First, when we arrive at a
    crash and see a vehicle that is just totally demolished, we must stop assuming that airbags have deployed. I approach each vehicle with the mindset that the airbags DID NOT deploy until I can prove otherwise. Better safe than sorry.

    Secondly, we need to add as a standard procedure scanning for airbags. All responders must be alert to the 10"-18"-5" inflation zones and remain clear of these area during all operations.

    Any others out there with similar experiences? Inquiring minds want to know.

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