The first fatal car accident took place in London in 1899. The first fatality occurred when a young man was thrown from the car and died on the scene. Since this first deadly car accident, car manufacturers have spent considerable time and marketing power convincing drivers that their cars are safe. Two of the major safety devices that have been installed in modern cars are the seat belt and the airbag. If you’re in a car accident, seat belts and airbags can save your life. However, many drivers are not aware of how these devices work.
Seat belts, which are simple pieces of fabric attached to a belt, are one of the best devices in your car that can help keep you safe in the event of a car accident. Seatbelts first became mandatory in many places in the 1980s, and are thought to save thousands of lives every year. In the event of an accident, a seat belt stops you from leaving your seat and smashing through the windshield or smashing into the dashboard. Even when the car comes to a sudden stop, the seat belt keeps you in place and therefore prevents serious injuries, including spinal cord injuries.
If you weren’t wearing a seatbelt, a crash at just 30 miles per hour would throw you forward with the force of 30 to 60 times your body weight. With such force, if you crashed into the steering wheel, dashboard, the seat in front of you, or the windscreen, you’d sustain serious head injuries, cuts, and other serious injuries. With a seatbelts in place, however, the force your body sustains in a car accident is spread across the pelvis and the rib cage, both of which are very strong parts of the body. With the force of the impact spread over these two parts, the force of the impact is not so strong and therefore your risk of personal injuries reduced.
Air bags were originally used on airplanes during World War II. The first airbags began to appear in cars in the 1970s, although they were not widely popular then. Today, all cars have airbags. Airbags are designed to inflate within a fraction of a second of a car crash. They essentially provide a pillow that slows the impact of the head and prevents the head from crashing into the dashboard. They are essential for preventing head injuries.
Airbags are designed to inflate when the car exerts a force that is similar to hitting an object at 10 to 15 mph. When such conditions are met, a sensor in the car activates, causing the airbag to inflate with nitrogen gas. While initially airbags were only used to protect to the driver from hitting his or her head against the steering wheel and dashboard, airbags are now used for passengers as well. Some vehicles are using side impact airbags to protect all passengers in a car.
Of course, in order for these two devices to be effective, they have to be working correctly. In order for seatbelts to work, drivers must wear them each time they are in a vehicle. Airbags should also be checked periodically in older vehicles.