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Seat belts started to appear as an optional feature in cars during the 1950s. The first automobile manufacturer to actually install seat belts as a standard feature was Volvo in 1959. At first they were quite controversial. Many people were thought they were uncomfortable and were obsessively concerned that they would be “trapped” in their cars if an accident occurred. Despite early misconceptions, however, seatbelts slowly gained acceptance and became an important safety accessory by the late 1960s. There is a very good reason why they became more widely accepted and that is because they realized that they can actually help save lives if someone gets into an accident. They can be the only saving thing between life and death, so it’s important that they are used. That being said, the likelihood of someone being left unscathed if they have an accident is slim. Which is why many people find it frustrating when they get into an accident and it isn’t their fault. When something like this happens, it’s important to involve a law firm like lamber goodnow to help you get through this difficult time. Hopefully, if you are wearing a seatbelt, the injuries you might get from your accident won’t be too severe. Don’t forget that you also have the extra safety precaution of airbags as well.

Like seat belts, the concept of the airbag, an inflated pillow to land against during a crash, was at first controversial. The first airbags were used in WWII in aircraft. They were crude devices in comparison to today. To inflate them, for example, required an external tank of pressurized gas mounted somewhere in the aircraft. Triggering electronics were slow too and often failed. Some engineers wondered if these things should be put into cars at all but as the technology improved, they became more acceptable. In 1971, General Motors marketed its first airbags under the unwieldy name “Air Cushion Restraint System (ACRS). The automotive press was delighted with this new “accessory” and the public got hooked quickly.

How airbags work

When a front collision occurs in a car, occupants are thrown forward. The goal of an airbag is simply to slow the passenger’s forward motion as evenly as possible when this happens. The whole process starts with signals from motion sensors. When one of these sensors detects a large, collision-level force, it sends an electrical pulse to the automobile’s airbag inflation system. Typically this ignites a charge that produces a hot blast of nitrogen gas which drives the airbag out from its storage site. And all of this happens in a few milliseconds so the bags are inflated by the time that passengers are flung forward.

They should be used with seatbelts

Since the early days of auto airbags, experts have cautioned that they should be used in tandem with seat belts. The reason for this is pretty simple. Airbags in the front dash only work in front-end collisions occurring at more than 10-12 mph. The issue is that car accidents hardly occur “only” in the front of a car. Cars get hit on all sides and that’s why seatbelts are important. A seatbelt helps keep occupants in their seats regardless of where the collision occurs. Although side-mounted airbags are becoming common now, manufacturers still recommend that seatbelts be worn.

Special note for parents

It didn’t take long to learn that the force of an airbag can hurt those who are too close to it, particularly children. It is very important for those that are transporting children that they know that kids aged 12 and under should ride buckled up in a properly installed, age-appropriate car seat mounted in the rear seat of a car.

Deactivating airbags

Considering how powerful airbags are, some owners elect to disable them and rely only on seatbelts. Earnhardt Chrysler of Gilbert, AZ, a full-service Chrysler, Jeep, Ram, Dodge dealer, says this may not be advisable but it is legal to do. In certain cases, car owners can request the ability to deactivate their airbags. This is always something to rely on your local dealer to do for you. If you are interested in this option, contact your local office of the National Traffic Safety Administration (NTSA) and ask for airbag deactivation paperwork. They will consider requests on a case-by-case basis.

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