Experimental external air bags could reduce car accident injuries

Most vehicle owners in Texas already have the benefit of internal airbags in their vehicles that deploy during crashes. Developers at ZF are now testing the potential of external airbags to cut down on injuries. Their initial tests of air bags positioned along the sides of cars showed that injuries among vehicle occupants could go down by 40 percent with the additional safety technology.

The demonstration airbag revealed by ZF measured 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide. The unit weighed 13 pounds and featured the ability to inflate fully in 15 milliseconds. The external airbag expands upon the protective crumple zones engineered into the structure of vehicles. It serves, essentially, as a large pillow that absorbs the force of an impact and reduces its effect on vehicle occupants.

Advances in camera technology as well as ultrasonics, lidar and radar have given engineers the tools to create an external airbag that judges the threat of oncoming vehicles and then deploys. Autonomous vehicles also rely on these sensing technologies to navigate traffic. Despite promising experiments, the external airbag technology requires continued research and development before it can go to market and begin protecting people.

Car accidents are a major source of injuries, including ones that are disabling and catastrophic. A person hurt seriously in a wreck might want the support of an attorney when preparing a personal injury claim. A lawyer’s attention to the case could spare a person struggling with injuries the need to gather information and communicate with an uncooperative insurance company. An attorney could gather evidence that points to the other driver’s negligence and highlight these facts to the insurer. Filing a lawsuit could become necessary in contentious cases or when a severely injured person requires a substantial settlement to recoup lost income and pay for medical care.