How Serious Does a Collision Have to Be for Airbags to Deploy? 

In 2021, nearly 1,500 people were seriously injured in Los Angeles car accidents, and another 294 died. Common injuries after a car crash include concussions, broken ribs, and spinal cord injuries. Many of these can be the result of a driver colliding with their steering wheel and dashboard during a crash.

Airbags are one of your most important lines of defense in the event of a car accident. Read on to learn more about how they work and how serious a collision has to be for airbags to deploy.

How Do Airbags Work?

Before we get into how serious a collision has to be for your airbags to deploy, let’s talk some about how they work. 

Your airbags are typically located on the front and side portions of the inside of your car. They are connected to accelerometer sensors all around the body of your car that can tell when you come to an overly abrupt stop.

When your sensors detect that you’ve crashed, they send a signal to your airbags telling them to inflate. Your airbag will combine two chemicals that produce nitrogen gas – a harmless gas that makes up most of our atmosphere. This chemical reaction inflates your airbags in less than 1/20th of a second, protecting you from the impact.

What Is a “Moderate” Crash?

So how fast do you have to be going in order for your airbags to go off when you crash? 

Running into something at 10 to 16 miles per hour can be considered a “moderate to severe” crash. This impact is often enough to set your airbags off.

While this may seem like an incredibly low threshold for your airbags, keep in mind how devastating even low-speed crashes can be. Driving into a solid object at 30 miles per hour is the equivalent of driving off a three-story building

Without your airbags to protect you, a crash at even 15 miles per hour could cause serious injuries.

Crash Direction

One of the other factors that impacts whether your airbags go off is what direction you’re hit from. 

You’re most likely to sustain injuries from an impact that comes from the front. Your body flies forward when you hit, and your head and chest collide with the steering wheel and the dashboard.

Airbags are most likely to go off if you run into something head-on or if you’re rear-ended. They may also go off in severe side-impact collisions. 

But, for instance, a collision with the rear passenger door of your car isn’t likely to set off your airbags.

Why Didn’t My Airbags Go Off?

In rare cases, airbags may not deploy even in car accidents that would be severe enough to set them off. One of the most common reasons this happens is that the airbags didn’t get replaced after a previous collision. Airbags are one-use only – once they deploy, they need to be replaced or they won’t function properly.

There have also been a few cases in which the airbags didn’t go off because of a manufacturer defect. If this was the case in your crash, the car manufacturer could be liable for any injuries you sustained. 

However, this is extremely rare, and manufacturers have checks in place to prevent this sort of mistake.

What to Do After a Crash

If you’re injured in a car crash, the first thing you need to do is call 911 and seek medical attention. If you’re not too badly injured, take pictures of the accident scene, including of your inflated airbags. Then call a car accident lawyer to start gathering evidence in case you need to file a personal injury claim later.

Get the Representation You Need

Car crashes can be devastating, but your airbags may help to protect you from the worst of the impact. You only have to be going about 10 miles an hour in order for your airbags to go off, and the impact must happen from the correct direction. If your airbags don’t go off, it was likely because they weren’t replaced after a previous collision.

If you’ve been injured in a Los Angeles car accident, you could be entitled to compensation. Our lawyers have recovered millions for our clients, and we’re available 24/7 to start work on your case. Schedule a free consultation today and start getting the representation you need in your case.