How Do Airbags Work?

Honda Has Recalled 1.1 Million Vehicles Because Of Takata Airbags!

Maybe you’ve not given much thought to airbags in the past. Unless when you’ve been buying a car and you want to know if they’re installed. Hopefully, you’ll never have to experience an airbag at work first hand. However, they are a necessity to have. Plus there’s some pretty fascinating science happening behind the scenes.

Safety First

Before explaining how an airbag works, it’s best to start with why you need them in the first place. When a car collides into something there are lots of forces at work. Mass – how heavy an object is. Velocity – which basically means speed travelling in a specific direction. Put those two together and you’ve got kinetic energy. So the heavier and faster an object is, its going to have more kinetic energy. When a car suddenly crashes into something all that built up energy has to go somewhere.  Not to mention the passengers in the car also have their own kinetic energy.

How They Work

So you have all this energy which needs to keep moving until it has been stopped. A seatbelt will only help to a certain extent as your head doesn’t have anything holding it back. Cue the airbag. There are impact sensors around the car and if they detect a serious collision, they will tell the airbag to operate. This means a spark lights up, which generates lots of gas, mainly consisting of nitrogen, into the airbag. The bag comes out and expands in the car. There are small holes in the back allowing the gas to be released. This is so the airbag absorb all that energy, rather than let the passenger bounce back. All of this happens within a second.


Airbags are also known as supplementary restraint systems. They’ve got to be used alongside a seatbelt. It’s been shown that airbags can reduce head injuries by up to 24%. As technology increases, it’s expected this number will rise over the years. You need to be careful when buying an older vehicle, as airbags used to inflate with a lot more force. Even with modern cars it’s important to note that you shouldn’t travel with small children in the front of the car.

Airbags have become a staple part of technology. It’s bound to develop and increase passenger safety in the future. Where do you think vehicle technology will steer towards in the future?

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