An experienced T-Bone accident lawyer knows motorists are rightly concerned about dangerous side impact collisions at intersections. T-Bone collisions, along with head-on accidents, are a leading cause of car accident fatalities and injuries. In 2009, 27 percent of deadly U.S. car accidents were side-impact crashes according to Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
Injury risks are high in T-Bone accidents because a vehicle's side panel is thin and has no shielding affect to protect vehicle occupants. Side airbags are optional safety features some consumers look for when making a vehicle purchase.
The problem is, there are virtually no official regulations or mandates imposed by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to ensure side airbags are effective or even safe for adults and kids. Protecting yourself from serious injury in side impact accidents should include both being vigilant at intersections to avoid collision risks and doing research into airbags in any vehicle you are considering buying.
Lax Side Airbag Regulations Makes T-Bone Accidents Dangerous
Safer Car.gov cautions motorists about side airbags. Side airbags (SABs) are not mandated for inclusion in all vehicles and NHTSA has limited restrictions or requirements for design, installation, or function.
Technical Working Group (TWG), a group of auto safety experts, has developed voluntary testing and guidelines to ensure the safety and effectiveness of side airbags. Not all vehicle manufacturers follow TWG protocols. When a car follows TWG guidelines, the owner's manual for the vehicle should note it. Lists of vehicle features should include information on side airbags and those following TWG guidelines will be denoted with an "M."
Side airbags in compliance with best practices for safety can have a positive impact on reducing risks of collisions. NHTSA estimates as many as 700 to 1,000 deaths each year could be avoided if every vehicle on U.S. roads was equipped with side airbags.
In 60 percent of T-Bone collisions leading to the death of vehicle occupants, the deceased suffers a fatal brain injury. Side airbags aim to protect the head and torso area. Tubular or curtain head airbags are mounted along the roof of a vehicle above a car's side windows. The purpose is to prevent the head from striking something hard when the vehicle is hit from the side.
Torso airbags are usually mounted in the side of a seat or mounted in a door. Some combination head and chest airbags are used instead of separate systems; these combination SABs are mounted in a seat's side and are large enough to protect both the head and torso.
When these airbags inflate, kids may be at risk of additional injuries from the airbags. Prior to development of voluntary standards by TWG, NHTSA advised parents not to allow children sit in seats next to side airbags. NHTSA no longer issues this warning. NHTSA studied 92 accidents with side airbags, six of which involved kids. More data is necessary to determine if side airbags present a significant danger to children.