When you are involved in an accident, sensors monitor the severity of the collision, and use that data to decide whether to deploy the Airbags . If a certain severity threshold is exceeded, the bags fill with gas. This entire process occurs within a fraction of a second. Since 1999, when the federal government mandated the installation of driver and passenger airbags, the technology has saved thousands of lives.

Yet few people know much about the bags, or the technology that powers them. We'll clarify a few common questions below.

Where Are They Installed?

Long ago, the bags were only installed in the steering wheel and instrument panel (for the driver and front passenger, respectively). While these locations are still used today, automakers also install them elsewhere. Knee bags may be installed within the lower instrument panel; side bags might be installed in the seat, door, or roof of the vehicle. These are designed to protect the car's occupants from being injured from a side collision since such collisions may harm those who are wearing seat belts.
How Do They Work?

Both frontal and side airbags work in a similar manner. As noted earlier, sensors constantly monitor the vehicle, and send data to a control module. The control module decides whether current conditions justify deployment. If it determines the impact of an accident is sufficiently severe to pose injury to the car's occupants, it triggers the mechanism that fills the airbags with gas.


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