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Airbag demonstration shows safety device

The anticipation is the worst part
The anticipation is the worst part
The feeling of safety is well worth it
The feeling of safety is well worth it


September 30, 1977

 Every car sold in the United States will be required to have automatic crash protection by 1984. Representatives of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) were on campus Wednesday to demonstrate one such system – the airbag.

Alex Calaluca, motor vehicle program director, and Don Hill, regional research and development director for the NHTSA, travel five states promoting public awareness of the airbag.

The airbag is another step in a progressive program of driver safety, joining other features such as head supports, seat belts, better door locks and shatterproof windshields, Hill said. Students were able to get firsthand experience in how the bags work by volunteering for front-seat duty in the demonstration car.

According to Hill, the airbag is designed specifically for head-on collisions and will inflate in 1/25th of a second upon collision at a minimum of 12 miles per hour.

“No airbag had ever failed to inflate when it should have,” said Calaluca. The bags are made of porous material and will deflate in 1/8th of a second.

The airbags are hermetically sealed in vacuum canisters and must be replaced after use. “The cost of replacement is estimated to be about $330 and would be covered by collision insurance with an additional annual premium of one dollar per car,” said Hill.

If all cars were equipped with the airbags, 9,000 lives per year would be saved, according to Department of Transportation (D.O.T) estimates.

In addition, 65,000 moderate to serious accidents would be prevented each year, D.O.T. says. Because only about 20 per cent of front seat occupants wear belts, airbags would be more effective in preventing fatalities and serious accidents.


Compiled from the archives by Ja’Leigh Cerf.


Category: Archives