Airbag: Do not place your feet on the car dashboard while it's in motion

When it comes to road safety, a fundamental and often underestimated element is the airbag. While it's crucial for saving the lives of drivers and passengers, if not used correctly, the airbag can also pose a danger to vehicle occupants.

According to the Brazilian Association of Traffic Medicine (Abramet), the airbag can reduce the risk of death in accidents by up to 75%. However, the device inflates very rapidly and forcefully, reaching speeds of up to 300 km/h.

If the vehicle occupant is too close to the airbag or is not wearing a seatbelt, they can suffer injuries to the face, chest, arms, or hands, as well as burns and skin or eye irritations.

That's why it's crucial that the seat is adjusted to a minimum distance of 25 centimeters between the chest and the steering wheel or dashboard, where the front airbags are located.

Also, avoid leaving loose objects behind the seatback, as they can be projected by the airbag during an accident and hit vehicle occupants.

Do not place your feet on the car dashboard because even though the airbag is a safety device that inflates in the event of a collision, it can propel the legs towards the passenger's body or face, causing injuries to the spine, head, chest, arms, or hands.

Furthermore, the hip can be in a flexed position, leading to dislocation of the thigh bone from the joint, compromising leg movements.

These injuries are often irreparable or even fatal. Therefore, it's important to keep your feet on the floor and always use the seatbelt, which is the primary safety item in the vehicle.

Globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 1.35 million people die each year in traffic accidents, with 93% of these deaths occurring in low- and middle-income countries.

WHO also estimates that seatbelt use can reduce the risk of death or serious injury in accidents by up to 50%, and the use of airbags can increase this protection by up to 15%.

How the Airbag Originated

The first concept of a device that could protect vehicle occupants in the event of a collision was proposed in 1919 by a French dentist named Paul Lemaire. He patented an idea for a system of inflatable cushions that would fill with air when the car collided with an obstacle. However, he couldn't develop his project practically.

The idea of the airbag as we know it today only emerged in 1953 when John W. Hetrick, a Navy industrial engineer, used his experience with compressed air actuators for torpedoes to develop a faster and fully automatic system.

He patented a "safety device for vehicles" consisting of an airbag that inflated using either a compressed air tank or a chemical reaction triggered by an impact sensor.

John even tested his prototype in a car but couldn't attract the attention of automakers.

In 1968, Allen Breed, an electrical engineer, invented the world's first electromechanical sensor and safety system, capable of detecting vehicle deceleration and deploying the airbag in milliseconds.

This led to the creation of the Breed Corporation, which became the global leader in airbag sensor manufacturing. Allen also patented his technology, which was the only one available at the time.

The first car to roll off the factory with airbags for the general public was the Oldsmobile Toronado in 1973. The system underwent improvements over the years and was revolutionized again in 1994, thanks to gas inflating technology, which was more efficient and safer than compressed air.

Since then, airbags have become a mandatory safety feature in many countries, and various types have been developed, including side airbags, curtain airbags, knee airbags, hood airbags, and more.

Image: Freepik

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