Out of the many features a car has, this is one we hope to never use in our lifetimes. And yet, it's something all cars must have these days. It's a simple device that could mean the difference between life and death. No, we're not talking about seatbelts. And besides, a seatbelt is something you should always use.
Instead, we're talking about the supplemental restraint system, better known as the airbag. But how can, well, a bag of air save lives?
Simply put, an airbag prevents your body from hitting hard objects in a crash. But if you're still skeptical about them, the Latin New Car Assessment Program's test should convince you.
They tested a Hyundai Accent with no airbags, and the results were as expected. The agency rated the subcompact sedan zero stars. While the structure of the vehicle held up well, the same couldn't be said about the dummies inside. That's because the dummy's head hit the rim of the steering wheel, which could cause major head injuries in real life. Chest protection was practically non-existent, again because of no airbags. The passenger side dummy also registered high chest loads because there are no airbags to soften the blow.
In contrast, the Accent (and its cousin, the Kia Rio) is one of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's (IIHS) Top Safety Pick. A different agency may have tested it, but the IIHS is tougher than the NCAP tests. The fact that it aced the IIHS test shows the big difference between having airbags and no airbags. Head and chest protection was rated good, which is a stark contrast to Latin NCAP's result. Also, that rating was boosted thanks to standard stability control in the U.S.
Of course, airbags can only be effective if you wear a seatbelt. You'll fly straight into the airbag if you get in an accident without a seatbelt. But these two features need each other to keep you safe. The seatbelt keeps you in place, while the airbag reduces the forces on your body. Also, more airbags are better, which is why we're glad to see more cars sold locally with side airbags.
So, do you still have doubts about airbags? We think the results speak for itself.