Since 1998, driver and passenger side frontal airbags have been required in all new passenger cars. All light-duty trucks have been equipped with frontal airbags since 1999.
How An Airbag Works
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration's (NHTSA) definition, an airbag inflates in a fraction of a second, and it's designed to work with a seatbelt to prevent serious injuries.
According to a 2006 report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the side-impact airbags that are designed to protect the head reduced deaths by about 45 percent in crashes where the vehicle was struck on the driver's side.
Fewer Brain Injuries
Studies by NHTSA have found that nearly 60 percent of those killed in side-impact crashes suffered severe brain injuries. If all vehicles were equipped with side-impact airbags with head protection, an estimated 976 lives would be saved, and another 932 severe injuries would be prevented.
Vehicles equipped with safety features like airbags often cost less to insure, though the airbag equipment adds to the cost of the vehicle.
Benefits of More Advanced Airbags
The most advanced airbags offer more benefits than earlier generations because they can inflate with less force in a lower-speed frontal crash, posing less of a risk to smaller occupants.
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