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Traffic Accidents And Malfunctioning Airbags

A high-speed accident is a brutal way to test the safety of your automobile. Of the many components that must function correctly to protect you, airbags may be the most difficult to master. Millions of vehicles have been recalled this year for various defects. Problems with the effective deployment of airbags make up nearly one-third of those recalls. Many vehicles now come with multiple airbags as standard equipment. These airbags must deploy under the right circumstances, in the right order, at the right moment to protect the driver and passengers. The software necessary to make this work is highly complex and is, therefore, prone to failure.

Non-deployment may be the most common type of defect impacting airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has studied this problem for more than a decade. Unfortunately, the software used to control airbags changes constantly as automakers seek to improve performance and cut costs. The flaws change from system to system and are often not discovered until many accidents, some of them fatal, have already occurred.

Early versions of the airbag were generally effective, but posed some danger to smaller occupants. The number of deaths attributed to excessively forceful airbag deployment dropped to 0 in 2008. Overall, the devices have been beneficial. The NHTSA credits airbags with saving some 37,000 lives between 1986 and 2012. When airbags deploy, they are effective. Safety groups can now turn their attention to fixing the problems that cause the airbags to not function at all in the event of a collision.

Source: TireBusiness.com, "Airbags safer than ever - if they deploy," 17 July 2014

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