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Are Modern Airbags Safer than their Predecessors?

It might surprise you to learn that the first electromechanical automotive airbag system was invented way back in 1968. It might also surprise you to learn that newer airbags are not necessarily be safer than earlier versions. Why is this?

Although the technology has unquestionably advanced, an airbag only works if it deploys exactly when needed. Unfortunately, even modern airbags occasionally deploy too early or too late or even not at all. But since they are now standard safety devices, drivers can bring lawsuits against automakers if they cars they sell contain defective airbags.

A recent case

When the airbag in her Lexus ES 330 did not fully inflate, Katherine Sprague suffered a dislocated vertebrae in her neck in a 2007 car crash. She later sued the vehicle’s manufacturer, Toyota Motor Corp, and was awarded $6.5 million in damages.

Mass recalls

The same carmaker, Toyota Motor Corp., recently announced that it is recalling 885,000 vehicles because they have an electrical problem that could prevent their airbags from working properly. With all these issues, it is natural to question whether airbag safety has actually improved in the past 45 years.