ZF's new airbags could lessen severity of side collisions

Among the various car safety features that are emerging, external airbags have some of the greatest potential. According to car parts manufacturer ZF, they can reduce the severity of side collision injuries by as much as 40 percent. ZF has even developed its own airbags although there is still much work to be done before they can be perfected. Texas drivers should know that other manufacturers are working on the technology behind these airbags.

ZF's external airbags are designed to provide an additional crumple zone to the sides of a vehicle so that it absorbs some of the shock of a T-bone or other side collision. The challenge is to make the airbags deploy as intended and to ensure that the sensors recognize the vital details of an impending crash. Another concern is that the airbags might deploy at inappropriate times.

Current predictive systems will protect occupants from an impending crash by tightening their seatbelts or adjusting the suspension. Airbags pose a more far-reaching solution, so the concerns are more than justified. ZF is confident, though, that developments in lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology will help them address those concerns.

ZF's airbags will vary in their dimensions based on the vehicle. Their weight is approximately 13 pounds. Despite the bulk, they boast an inflation time similar to that of steering wheel airbags: 15 milliseconds.

Though victims who have these airbags installed may not suffer as much physically in motor vehicle accident, they could still be left with financial losses due to medical bills and perhaps a lost earning capacity. As long as they are less than 51 percent at fault, they can be eligible for damages under this state's negligence laws. Being eligible and actually receiving damages are two different things, so victims may want a lawyer by their side for the filing of their injury claim.

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