A crazy question isn’t it. how can something designed and marketed as a safety measure actually kill us?
Well, the answer might baffle some of us. Let’s use some science facts to answer this question. We are sure you will enjoy what comes up regarding Airbags.
What is an airbag?
Enter into drivers or co-drivers seat of any new car, you would see SRS airbag written on it. What does this SRS mean? well SRS stands for Supplementary Restraint System. That’s what is the technical name of what we call an Airbag.
Notice the word “Supplementary”, this word can itself answer our question. Airbags are meant to be used in tandem with seat belts. Anyone having airbags in the car must use seat belts while driving. Airbags are designed to cushion the residual impact that seat belts cant handle. Using them without seat belts can be fatal. And we will see why?
Airbags are the devices which on cars impact gets deployed hence reducing the force with which we might have hit the steering wheel or the dashboard of the vehicle.
When a vehicle is moving at high speeds then a thing called momentum comes in to play. Its a mix of the speed of the vehicle plus its weight plus passengers and cargo weight. Anybody or object inside the vehicle will be the part of this momentum. Momentum in the world of physics is mass into velocity. In simple Layman terms if you weigh 60kgs and are traveling at a speed of 60 kmph, then the forces acting on you are 60×60=3600 kgs is the momentum. That means if you hit something with these values you are dead.Basically, airbags with seat belts try to prevent that.
Now coming to the point, Can airbags kill you? Maybe they can! How?
Airbags themselves are powered by explosives. Bet you didn’t know that, in fact there working mechanism is somewhat similar to a rocket engine. Airbags utilize the power of explosion to save your life.In order to allow airbags to help a passenger, they have to be deployed faster than the speed of the car. A typical airbag gets deployed within 20 milliseconds of the noted impact.
Airbags are connected to an accelerometer sensor, which is independent of your car’s speedometer.It is calibrated to monitor extremely sudden drops in speed and will not trigger the airbags in case of sudden hard braking.
In fact, the system is so efficiently calibrated that it can calculate the drop in speed and the actual time that the car will come to a halt in a matter of milliseconds.
When a speeding car hits an object and crashes, the airbag sensors would know exactly when to fire the system. The sensors are connected to heating coils which would ignite the explosive at the right time creating a controlled explosion. This explosion will then fill the airbag with harmless gases which would act as a cushion to the impact.
Sounds simple. Right? How can it kill a man then? Actually, it can if caution is not practiced. You see airbags deploy at a speed of 300 Km/Hr. Yes, 300! Things are really fine if you are wearing a seat belt and nothing comes in between you and the bag. Even an object like a cell in between can kill you as the forces in play are really huge.
This is the exact reason why small kids should never travel in the front seats of a car which has airbags. Even with seatbelts owing to their small height the kids can due to the dual impact at the wrong place.
So here you have your answer, improper use of airbags can definitely kill you.