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Imagine if we lived in a world where there are no airbags, and perhaps no seat belts too. What a disaster that would be!
You would wake up every morning to hear the familiar, unpleasant news about car accidents, claiming the lives of drivers and passengers. Who knows, you probably won’t have a car of your own, and would dread getting into one, because you wouldn’t want to take such a high risk.
There is such a thing called an airbag and it provides passive restraint, in the event of a collision. The use of airbags in vehicles have greatly reduced the rate of fatalities in road crashes, and we cannot fail to extend our gratitude to the man, who invented this super bag, John Hetrick.
How airbags came to be
Airbags became a thing as far back as 1951, when Hetrick developed air-filled bladders. He later filed for an airbag patent in 1952 and was granted a year later, on 18 August, 1953. Walter Linderer, also filed German patent in 1951, and was issued in November 1953, shortly after Hetrick’s.
These airbags compressed air system, whereby in the event of a crash, compressed gas would be released to fill the bag. Research, however, later showed that this system was inefficient, as the compressed air failed to inflate the airbags fast enough, to ensure safety. This has led to the production of the kind of airbags we have today, which are chemical and electrical based.
Types of Airbags
Apart from the frontal airbag, which is the main airbag that every vehicle has (or should have), there are other types of airbags, placed in strategic positions, for increased safety of driver and passenger. Some vehicles have two or more of these:
The side airbags are triggered, when there is impact on the side of the vehicle. There are two variants of this airbag – one that is located in the seat (side torso airbag), which pops up between the driver and the door. The other is the curtain airbag, which is placed in the roof of the car, and pops up like a curtain, to offer protection from the side. Glacier vehicles new refrigerated vans can also be customized with this airbag, to reduce the effects of a crash, on chilled items in transit.
These type of airbags are deployed, for the safety of pedestrians in case of an accident. Without this airbag, the chances of the person hit, to sustain severe injuries is higher.
As the name suggests, this airbag is meant to protect the legs of occupants in a vehicle. It is mounted just under the steering wheel. This airbag was first used in the Kia Sportage vehicle (1996 model), and has since then, been used in many car, due to its high efficiency rate.
Rear curtain airbags
These airbags are designed with the passengers sitting in the back seat in mind. It protects their head, when there is collision, from the rear of the vehicle.
Some motorcycles also come pre-installed with airbags. When there is a crash, the sensors in the fork detect and inflate the airbag.
Refrigerated van airbags
Used refrigerated vans in the Glacier Vehicle line up, all come fitted with an airbag. Some refrigeration vans can have as many as 8 airbags, depending on the type of fridge van. Just like airbags installed in smaller vehicles, fridge van airbags are deployed in event of a collision.
Glacier refrigerated vans also have other safety mechanisms asides airbags, to forestall or reduce the chances of a crash. Depending on the refrigerated van type, these safety mechanisms may include hydraulic brake assist, pretensioners, and understeer control.
To generally avoid deployment of refrigerated van airbags, advanced optional extras, such as a 360 degree camera, can be installed in the refrigerated van. This fridge van camera comes in handy, for the driver to easily notice avoidable collisions.
Facts about Glacier refrigerated van airbags
- Glacier refrigeration vans can be customized to feature multiple airbags at strategic positions, for driver, passenger, and goods safety.
- Glacier refrigerated van airbags are up to standard and are deployed within milliseconds, after a crash.
- Refrigerated van conversions and maintenance by our engineers includes, ensuring that airbags and other safety mechanisms are working perfectly.
How the system works
Every modern vehicle has airbags installed, and are controlled by a central airbag control unit (ACU). This ACU is responsible for monitoring different sensors in the car, to ascertain when there is a need for an airbag to be deployed or not. Some of these sensors include accelerometers, impact sensors, wheel speed sensors, gyroscopes, brake pressure sensors, side pressure sensors, and seat occupancy sensors.
The bag and the mechanism that ensure quick response during a crash, are tucked within the steering wheel boss of the driver, and the dashboard of the front passenger seats, behind plastic coverings that easily give way, when there is an impact, and the bag begins to inflate.
When there is a crash
In the event of a crash, when the requisite threshold is reached or exceeded, the airbag control unit swings into action, by triggering the gas generator, which then rapidly inflates a fabric bag. After the impact and the car occupant rests on the soft-texture bag, the gas begins to escape gradually, through small vent holes.
The response of the air control unit depends on the signals it gets from the sensors in the car. Sometimes, what is deployed may include other restraint devices. The ACU receives the signals and interprets them, to determine the angle of impact, how severe, as well as other relevant findings.
The result of these calculations may then require the deployment of other restraint devices, such as seat belt pre-tensioners, frontal airbags for driver and passenger, curtain airbags, and seat-mounted side bags.
The electric Match
Each of these restraining devices is activated with what is called an initiator, or electric match or pyrotechnic device. This device comprises of an electrical conductor, enclosed in a combustible material, and activates with a current surge, between 1 and 3 amperes, in less than 2 milliseconds. As soon as the electrical conductor is hot enough, it ignites the combustible material, which then prompts the gas generator.
In other to effectively cushion the effect of the occupant during a crash, the airbag is fully deployed between 60 to 80 milliseconds, after the crash.
Airbags play a very important role in ensuring the safety of both the driver, passengers, and delivery items (in the case of refrigerated vans), when there is a crash. The presence of one or more of these airbags doesn’t in anyway downplay the use of a seat belt, because this also contributes to overall safety. Hence the need to use seatbelts, to complement airbags, provided in the vehicle.