You may have heard that your car’s airbags will deploy if you’re in a “moderate to severe” collision. But what does that mean, and how does your car know you’ve been involved in a crash? Will they go off in every collision, and what happens if they don’t go off when you need them to?

There are some specific parameters that govern when your airbags deploy. Read on to learn more about your airbags and how serious a crash has to be to set them off.

How Airbags Work

Before we dive into the types of car crashes that can trigger airbags, let’s talk some about how they work. 

Airbags are located around the front and sides of the inside of your car and are meant to protect you in the event of a crash. When you collide with another vehicle and go flying forward, your airbags stop you from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard.

Your car has accelerometer sensors all around the outside of the vehicle that let the airbag know when you run into something. This sets off an ignitor that mixes two chemicals – sodium azide and potassium nitrate. These two chemicals produce nitrogen gas, a non-toxic substance that causes your airbag to inflate in less than 1/20th of a second.

Which Collisions Trigger the Airbags?

Because airbags are mainly designed to stop forward motion, only certain kinds of collisions set them off. 

In particular, front-end or rear-end collisions tend to cause your airbags to deploy. They can also deploy in t-bone accidents, but this is less common.

In a front- or rear-end collision, your body goes flying forward toward the dashboard and steering wheel. Your seatbelt will help to restrain you, but your airbag protects your head, face, and chest from colliding with those hard surfaces. This can prevent everything from head trauma to broken bones and internal bleeding.

How Fast Do You Have To Be Going?

You might be surprised to learn at what speed your airbags will go off. 

Most car manufacturers design their airbags to deploy when you run into something at a speed of 10 to 16 miles per hour. This is considered a moderate to severe crash – your airbags won’t deploy if you’re involved in a mild crash.

These speeds may seem extremely low, but keep in mind that it doesn’t take very much speed to generate a whole lot of force on impact. 

Driving into a wall at just 30 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving off a three-story building. Even low-speed collisions can be devastating, and your airbags can help to reduce some of that impact.

Why Do Airbags Fail?

In rare cases, your airbags may fail to go off even when a collision meets the standard criteria. The most common reason for this is that you or a previous owner didn’t replace the airbags after they went off in a previous accident. Airbags are one-use-only – once they’ve deployed, they need to be replaced.

Sometimes, an impact just doesn’t happen at the precise spot to trigger the airbags. 

And in very rare cases, a manufacturer defect may cause the airbag to fail. In these cases, the car manufacturing company could be held liable for any injuries you get in the crash.

Next Steps After an Accident

If you’re in a crash and your airbags deploy, the first thing you need to do is see a doctor. Even if you feel fine, you could have a concussion or soft tissue injury that you can’t detect. Getting treated for those injuries as soon as possible will give you the best chance at a full recovery.

If you aren’t seriously injured, take plenty of pictures of the scene of the accident, including of your deployed airbags. Write down everything you can remember about the crash as soon as possible after it happens. 

This can become important evidence if you have to file a personal injury claim later.

Get the Representation You Need

Your airbags are designed to protect you in the event of a crash, and it may not take as much force as you think to set them off. A crash at 10 to 16 miles per hour is considered “moderate to severe” and could be enough to deploy your airbags. Once your airbags have gone off, you need to replace them in order for them to work the next time you’re in a crash.

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Our lawyers can stand up to the insurance companies and help you get the money you deserve. Schedule a free consultation with us today to start getting the representation you need in your case.

Contact the Clearwater Car Accident Law Firm of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for Help Today

For more information, please contact the legal team of Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers for a free initial consultation with a car accident lawyer in Clearwater. We have four convenient locations in Florida: Clearwater, New Port Richey, and Tampa.

We serve throughout Pinellas County, Hillsborough County, Pasco County, and its surrounding areas:

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Clearwater Office
1811 N. Belcher Road, Suite I-1
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 787-2500

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Congress Ave Office
2360 Congress Avenue
Clearwater, FL 33763
(727) 591-5610

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – Tampa Office
6601 Memorial Hwy Suite 202
Tampa, FL 33615
(813) 686-7588

Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers – New Port Richey Office
2515 Seven Springs Blvd.
New Port Richey, FL, 34655
(727) 815-8442