Side Impact Airbag Testing and Regulation:Deflating a Potentially Explosive Topic 2001-01-1331
America has been in love with the automobile since the first motorized carriages shared the road with horses. At first this new technology was a pastime for the rich. It was a privilege that was enjoyed by the upper classes of society on weekends and sunny days. As methods of mass production became refined and more economical, the automobile became so commonplace that one would expect to find one in every backyard. Through a depression, world war and a post-war economic and population boom, the automobile helped shape American life we can all identify with today. To date the automotive industry has gone through many changes, modifications and has reinvented itself several times.
Transitions in the auto industry and consumer demand have brought the majority of automobiles from giant, gas-guzzling hunks of steel to lightweight, fuel-efficient modes of transportation (taking into exception the ever-present SUV - which shall be mentioned later). The technological aspect of safety, specifically occupant restraint systems, have followed the trend of beginning in higher-priced models and then trickling down into models of lower prices. Inflatable restraints have and will continue to follow this pattern. This pattern can be seen in the implementation of driver and front passenger airbags in the past and we should expect it to continue in this manner concerning side airbags and curtain systems until the day when virtually all automobiles will have standard frontal and side airbags for all passengers (2).