air bag(redirected from Air bags)
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air bagA safety device installed in passenger cars and other vehicles (including helicopters and motorcycles) which consists of a rubberised nylon bag that inflates rapidly in frontal impacts, and, in an increasing number of vehicles, in side impacts. Dashboard air bags are standard equipment in personal vehicles in the US; side impact bags are usually “factory options”.
Mechanism Airbags detonate by spark ignition of sodium azide, nitrogen gas, ash, and NaOH.
Pros Estimated 6,377 lives saved from 1990 to 2000 (US); airbags reduce traffic fatalities by ±6.5%, assuming that a shoulder belt is worn.
Cons Skin abrasions, hearing loss due to loud (165-175 dB)deployment explosion, head injuries, eye damage (chemical keratitis, photophobia related to intraocular deposition of powder, ocular contusions), broken nose and upper extremities, burns due to hot gases, and death (which peaked at 53 in 1997, with a total of 175 between 1990 and 2000, per US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). Air bags may deploy during rescue efforts by emergency personnel.
Causes of death Decapitation (infants, especially in rear facing seats), injuries including aortic transection; at highest risk are infants and children under age 13 years, those under 160 cm in height, and the elderly.