How Fast Does an Airbag Deploy?

It has been nearly three decades since airbags became mandatory safety features on new cars and trucks. Although these devices are now standard in vehicles, how they work remains a mystery to most people. Some common questions about airbags include, “How fast do airbags deploy,” and “At what speed does an airbag deploy?” 

Often, these and other questions about airbags are raised out of a sincere concern for safety. For example, defects in Takata airbags injured over 400 people and killed over two dozen more. Read more about airbag injuries here.

How Airbags Work

Driver and front passenger airbags have been standard features on all cars and light trucks since 1999. Modern vehicles may offer additional airbags, such as side curtain airbags, to offer occupants additional protection. 

However, regardless of location, generally, all airbags work in the same way:

  • The manufacturer programs the airbag to detect when certain parameters are exceeded
  • The vehicle is involved in a crash that exceeds those parameters
  • The airbag module initiates a chemical reaction that produces nitrogen gas
  • The airbag rapidly inflates, often in about 1/20th of a second

The chemical reaction that produces the nitrogen gas also creates a tremendous amount of heat and force. This can cause injuries to individuals who are too close to the airbag when it deploys.

Airbag Inflation Speed Injuries

The speed with which an airbag inflates is incredibly fast. One-twentieth of a second is literally faster than you can blink your eyes. The time equates to approximately 200 miles per hour. When an airbag deploys properly, this quick inflation speed prevents the occupant from hitting their head on the steering wheel, dashboard, or other parts of the car’s interior.

However, defects in the design or manufacturing can lead to serious airbag injuries. The force with which airbags deploy can shoot chemicals into the person’s face, break glasses, and cause a host of facial injuries. These injuries can include lacerations, bruises, and broken bones, especially around the eye socket.

Airbags can also cause injuries to your arms and wrists. In a car crash, it is common to raise your hands and attempt to protect your face. Alternatively, a driver might grip the steering wheel tightly just as the airbag deploys. A forceful airbag deployment can cause bruises and broken bones.

Finally, while an airbag can keep you from striking your head on a hard object, it can also injure your neck. Minor injuries might include neck strains and sprains from the sudden deceleration of your vehicle. More serious injuries could include injuries to the spinal cord and spinal column. You might also suffer nerve damage, leading to pain and discomfort.

Airbag Safety

You can reduce the likelihood that you will sustain an injury in a crash by making sure your airbag is not under an active recall. If it is, schedule an appointment and have your vehicle’s airbag serviced immediately.

Additionally, sit at least 10 to 12 inches away from the steering wheel or as far back as possible. Wearing your seat belt can also help ensure you are in an appropriate position in the event your airbag deploys.

Your Airbag Can Save Your Life — Or Cause Serious Injuries

Your vehicle’s airbag remains an important safety feature that can prevent severe or fatal injuries in a wreck. However, the speed at which these devices inflate can lead to injuries on your face, hands, and neck. 

Observing simple safety steps and ensuring you get your vehicle serviced if there is an active recall can all help reduce the likelihood that your airbag will cause injury.

Contact Our Ocala Car Accident Law Firm in North Central Florida

If you need legal assistance, contact the Ocala car accident lawyers at Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers at your nearest location to schedule a free consultation today.

We have three convenient locations in North Central Florida:

Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers – Ocala Office
112 S Pine Ave
Ocala, FL 34471
(352) 351-3258

Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers – Downtown Gainesville
621 W University Ave
Gainesville, FL 32601
(866) 928-6292

Allen Law Accident & Injury Lawyers – Gainesville office
2550 SW 76th St #150
Gainesville, FL 32608
(877) 255-3652