What Happens When A Car Air Bag Goes Off?

GEM Motoring Assist (GEM), that campaigns for the safety of all road users, is concerned that many drivers and front seat passengers have no idea what happens when an airbag is deployed as the result of a collision.

“The airbag is a great safety feature and used in conjunction with a seat belt can often save serious injury,” says GEM Chief Executive David Williams, “But unless they have direct experience of these quick inflating devices drivers and passengers could panic and experience extra stress after being involved in a bump.”

David was made aware of the ignorance of most drivers and passengers by GEM member Matt Day who wrote to the organisation to describe his first experience of an airbag doing its job admirably when he and his wife were involved in a crash that was not his fault.

“We were thankful for the extremely fast deployment of the airbags,” said Matt. “They seem to have deflated again before I realised they had inflated. What’s more the seatbelts did their job and we didn’t get thrown forward.”

Matt explained that when the airbags inflated his car filled with smoke from the mini explosion, which was necessary to deploy them. “I could sense the car filling rapidly with smoke and my initial reaction was to get out. I screamed at my wife to get out too.”

He said the crash made him think that there should be more information as to what exactly happens when an airbag comes into use. “In a situation where you might be best off not moving at all, especially if you are injured, your first reaction is to try and get out of the car,” he said.

David Williams confirmed that the chances of a car exploding are extremely remote and badly injured people should not try to move until the emergency services have arrived. “Explaining what happens when an airbag inflates is something we will now be adding to our web site – www.motoringassist.com,” he said. “Airbags are a great addition to the safety equipment of modern cars but like so much involved with modern motoring we have to understand how they work.”

GEM Motoring Assist, formerly known as the Guild of Experienced Motorists, produces free of charge leaflets on safe driving, supports road safety campaigns with grants through its charitable arm and acknowledges those that work for safer roads.

2 April 2008 Staff

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