Airbags considerably enhance the internal safety of passenger cars. As the number of vehicles being fitted with airbags rapidly increases, so will more answers be sought to the questions relating to injuries which may be caused by the airbag in specific road accidents.
In order to provide protection, the airbag first needs to be inflated. During the inflation process, a corresponding amount of energy needs to be activated. If the vehicle occupants are impacted by the airbag during the inflation phase, additional loadings may result. This can occur if the person concerned is seated out of position at the beginning of an accident, such that their head is positioned close to the airbag cover.
Four tests were carried out at the DEKRA Crash Centre, based on this theme. For the purposes of the study, complete vehicles were driven at 55 km/h with a 40 % frontal overlap into a rigid barrier. In each test a belted Hybrid III dummy was located in the driver’s seat in a normal seating position. In the passenger seat an unbelted Hybrid Ill dummy was seated bent forward, out of position. Three different passenger cars were used: a Ford Fiesta with Euro bags, an Opel Corsa and an Opel Vectra, both with full size bags. Each of these cars was fitted with driver and passenger airbags. In order to make a comparison for the passenger without an airbag, one more test was conducted with a second Opel Vectra.
The test results are presented in this article and discussed on an interdisciplinary basis. The problems posed by the out-of-position aspect form the focal point of the text. The article also goes into the medical biomechanical relevance of the recorded impact stresses on the dummies and possibilities for reducing the injury risks caused by airbag deployments.