When a vehicle crashes a sensor releases a vehicle’s safety air bags, safely keeping occupants from harm and cushioning the blow. From 1987 to 2017, frontal air bags saved 50,457 lives in the U.S.
Buckle up and learn how they work.
A chemical reaction produces sodium azide to help deploy an air bag. Sensors in the front of a vehicle detect a collision sending an electrical signal to a canister that contains sodium azide, detonating a small amount of an igniter compound. The heat from the ignition causes nitrogen gas to generate, fully inflating the air bag in 0.03 seconds. Some 50 milliseconds after an accident, the car's occupant hits the air bag and its deflation absorbs the forward-moving energy of the occupant.