Airbags are just one of several safety features that are making a contribution to saving lives and reducing injuries – and they might one day contribute to reducing the cost of Maine auto insurance. But how well do you understand the technology behind your airbag? Here are some of the basics, courtesy of a publication by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

Your vehicle airbag consists of three sections: the air bag module, crash sensors and a diagnostic unit.

The airbag module

This houses the airbag itself and the inflation mechanism.

Crash Sensors

One or more sensors in a vehicle with airbags are designed to trigger air bag inflation in circumstances that indicate a crash. They work by measuring deceleration. The rate of deceleration needs to be quite high to trigger the airbag – sudden braking isn’t usually sufficient to trigger airbag inflation.

Diagnostics

These units have a dual purpose. The first is to monitor the status of the airbag and alert the driver (via a dashboard warning light) if there is a problem with the airbag. The second is that (in most vehicles) the unit stores sufficient energy to deploy the airbag in a crash, even if the vehicle’s battery is unable to due to the nature of the crash.

Airbags aren’t the final solution and they certainly have their limitations. For example, once the airbag deploys, it deflates soon afterwards, leaving the occupant vulnerable to a secondary collision; they can also cause minor injuries due to their extremely rapid inflation, particularly if the occupant is positioned close to the bag when it’s deployed. 

Still, they’re an excellent means of protection and there is no doubt that we’ll see even more improvements in vehicle safety technology in the coming years – and surely that’s got to be good for Maine auto insurance rates in the long term.