# Statistics of the Institute of Road Safety

Topics: Car Accident

In our daily lives, many accidents can cause casualties and injuries such as car accidents. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in 2017 there were approximately 37,133 deaths in the United States due to car accidents. However, there are advanced technologies that can help prevent these deaths such as airbags, braking systems, seatbelts, crumple zone, and other safety features of a car. Two of the focused car components in this research will be airbags and the electronic stability control system.

Airbags are made of nylon-fabric cushions that have sensors to measure the severity of the car’s collision when the car crashes.

When the car has a very severe collision, the sensors will signal inflators and the nitrogen gas stored within the inflatable cushions will fill the bags in less than a second (IIHS, 2018). The inflated airbags will provide a safety cushion between the individual and the object of impact. Due to Newton’s 1st law of motion, physics and airbags are related to each other.

Newton’s 1st law of motion stated that “An object at rest will remain at rest unless acted on by an unbalanced force. An object in motion continues in motion with the same speed and the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force” (Newton, 1686). As the car stopped due to a collision, the driver and passengers will continue to stay in motion at the same speed and direction until they hit something to stop them. The individuals would hit the steering wheel or dashboard resulting in severe injuries or worst cases, death.

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By having airbags, it can act as an unbalanced force and prevent the driver and passengers from hitting anything in front of them. The airbags also relate to impulse and momentum as it allows the driver and passengers more time before hitting the steering wheel or dashboard. In physics, the impulse is p = Ft, if time increases it results in a decrease in the amount of force (Henderson, 1996). The airbags increase the time of impact and according to the impulse equation, the individual would receive a lesser impact of force (Brain, 2000). It can be assumed that when the car crashes at a high velocity it will require a large amount of force to stop the objects inside the car (Patterson, 2000). The car’s momentum was changed instantly resulting in the passenger(s) not having enough time to change with the car’s momentum. Therefore, the passengers will move at the same speed the car was before the crash. Having these airbags can help stop the driver and passengers and create as little damage as possible to the individuals.

John W. Hetrick, a retired industrial engineer, was credited with inventing the first airbags in 1952. After being involved in a car accident, he was inspired to design an airbag that he called “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles.” Hetrick designed airbags to reduce injuries when there are emergency braking and frontal collisions (McCormick, 2019). There are statistics found by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated that in 2013 “there were 202 million airbag-equipped passenger vehicles on the road in the United States, including 199 million with dual airbags” (Insurance Information Institute, 2019). NHTSA also estimated in 2015, that there were 44,869 lives saved due to frontal airbags (IIHS, 2018). These statistics show how helpful airbags are in preventing drivers and passengers from risking their lives in a car accident. An interesting fact about airbags is how it is designed to deploy in frontal collisions only and not other types of crashes (Kline, 2019). There are also laws for airbags such as the requirement of all cars and light trucks sold in the United States have to have airbags on both sides of the front seat (History.com Editors, 2018). Another law is not having any children under age 13 as airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2018).

Another safety component of a car is the electronic stability control system. The electronic stability control system is a system that helps reduce the danger of skidding or losing control due to over-steering. This system helps the drivers