Motivated by low seat belt usage rates and growing safety concerns, airbags were first introduced in the early 1970s. Since then, this safety device has been instrumental in saving innumerable lives and yet, scarce attention has been paid to understanding the aspects of this worthy safety feature.

 

Depending on the car manufacturer and variant, airbags are usually fitted in the steering wheel, dashboard, or side panelling of the car.  This feature, also termed as ‘Supplementary Restrain System’ (SRS) implies that in case of a collision or an abrupt variation in speed, the SRS is automatically deployed as a protective shield to reduce the effects of incidental impact on the driver and passengers.

 

The technology of this safety system has progressed immensely and it is very important that car-owners are suitably aware of airbag systems and their working.  In terms of measures to ensure ample protection, here are some key tips to be kept in mind.

 

Do’s when travelling with small children

The frontal airbags are installed to protect an average adult, and its impact on deployment could be counterproductive for a child seated upfront. Children, especially below the age of 13, should be buckled up safely in the rear seats. Never place a rear-facing infant seat in the airbag pathway. If for some reason, you are planning to travel with a person less than 153 cm tall or a baby in a child seat upfront, make sure to deactivate the passenger airbag.

 

Do’s for sitting correctly

Always wear a seatbelt, which is a primary safety mechanism that cannot be replaced by airbags. It is extremely important that all car occupants are buckled in. Passengers should sit upright and should not place their feet on the dashboard. Drivers must avoid placing their hands on the steering wheel’s hub as the airbag upon deployment could cause serious injury. Airbag pathways should be kept free from any kind of objects or accessories that could become projectiles or obstruct deployment.

Do’s for maintenance

The SRS is a diagnostic control that helps to indicate if the airbags are functional. This system is usually low maintenance and lights up as an indicator on the dashboard upon ignition. If the SRS indicator is flashing or not lighting up, it could present an issue such as need for servicing or replacement; which may compromise safety if not attended to, immediately.

 

Do’s after Deployment

Upon deployment, gas is spontaneously released into the airbags before gradual deflation and this is what creates the protective barrier between you and full force of collisional impact.  However, this also makes airbags good for one-time use only and once activated, the car needs to be taken back to the authorised repair centre for full inspection and replacement of the SRS and crash sensor system.

 

Prompted by rising road safety concerns, airbags will soon become an essential reality in all cars plying on Indian roads, thanks to governmental initiative to make road safety systems mandatory in all cars by early 2019.

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