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Airbags: One of the First of Many Automobile Safety Innovations

Over the past 50 years, automobiles have become remarkably safer. In fact, the earliest models of cars lacked many of safety features that are commonplace today, such as seatbelts and airbags. While cars are becoming safer, the number auto accidents every year still remains alarmingly high. The following considers advances in auto technology, as well as liability when technology is defective.

A Look Back to 1966: When Airbags Were Just an Idea

In the 1960s, Americans began expressing serious concerns about the safety of vehicles. In response, automakers began exploring different safety technologies that could be implemented in the vehicles that would improve safety. One such technology included airbags. In 1967, The New York Times published an article titled, “Scientists Design ‘Safety Car’ to Cut Death Rates.” An illustration accompanying the article depicted an automobile with front and side airbags, as well as seatbelts.

But the article did not take the ‘safety car’ seriously, and instead dismissed it as a science fiction idea.

The First Standard Airbags

While the airbag was a great idea in 1967, it took 18 years to perfect the technology. It was not until 1988 that Chrysler became the first vehicle manufacturer to make airbags standard equipment on several of its car lines, according to a recent article in The New York Times. While the action may have been overdue, it was certainly a big improvement in terms of safety. Indeed, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates that between the period of 1987 and 2001, air bags saved the lives of 8,369 persons.

The Future of Safety Technology in Cars

The airbag was undoubtedly on of the first innovative safety technologies installed in motor vehicles. But a number of additional safety features have since become standard. Today, common safety technologies include anti-lock brakes, tire-pressure monitoring, collision mitigation technology, blind-spot detection, rollover prevention, emergency brake assist, rearview cameras, night vision assist, and more. And further technological advances are expected soon. For instance, Google has recently created a self-driving car that is supposed to be able to do it all, and may one day be considered the safest method of getting to and fro.

When Safety Technology Fails

While cars today are designed to keep us as safe as possible, too often, unproven and untested safety technology fails and drivers and passengers are harmed as a direct result. For instance, not long ago exploding Takata airbags harmed dozens, as have countless defective brake, ignition device, and tire recalls. When cars are manufactured with defective parts and injuries occur, victims have the right to seek compensation.

A Defective Product Attorney Can Help You

The experienced Pennsylvania and New Jersey car accident and defective product attorneys at the law firm of Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. can help you if you have been in an accident. Whether your injuries occurred because another driver acted negligently, your car malfunctioned, or because safety equipment did not operate as it should have (i.e. your airbags did not deploy), we can help you to track down the liable party and file a claim for damages. To learn more about our services and how we can help you, contact our law firm today at (215) 567-3500.

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