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When Were Airbags First Used And How Do They Work?

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Kath Senior answered
Airbags have been used in cars to help prevent head injuries in crashes since the 1980s but they were used as long ago as the Second World war by fighter planes in aircraft used in the war.

In the UK, all new cars must now have an airbag fitted at the driver's side and at the passenger side as it has been found that airbags can reduced deaths in a head on collision by about 30 per cent. Some people think it would be a good idea to have airbags for passengers in the back of the car, but this has not been done yet.

When a collision occurs, a piezoelectric device inside the airbag senses the change in force that has been caused by the impact and sends out a small electrical charge. This triggers a chemical reaction that decomposes a soild called sodium azide to form nitrogen gas and sodium metal. The gas inflates the bag in a fraction of a second.

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