What California drivers should know of ZF’s external airbags

The ZF Group is just one of many car parts manufacturers that are developing external airbags. It’s safe to say that these airbags, as with self-driving cars, will not be introduced to the public anytime soon, but their advantages are clear. ZF released some safety data showing, among other things, that external airbags can mitigate the severity of car crash injuries by up to 40 percent.

ZF has made external airbags that are meant to go on the sides of a vehicle and protect the occupants from side collisions. Once the predictive system recognizes the vital details of an impending crash, it should ideally deploy the airbags a split second before the event, creating an additional crumple zone that absorbs some of the impact.

The dimensions will vary based on vehicle size, but one of the models is approximately 80 inches long, 15 inches wide and 21 inches high. It weighs about 13 pounds. Inflation time is 15 milliseconds, comparing favorably to that of a steering wheel airbag.

Most predictive systems tighten the seatbelt or adjust the suspension if they sense a crash, but this being more drastic, concerns are many. The system may not deploy the airbags in time, for instance, and the airbags may even deploy needlessly. ZF says that camera and sensor technology are advancing fast enough to address these.

While safety features like airbags only reduce the severity of motor vehicle accidents, they obviously do not prevent anything. Drivers will continue to be negligent, but the victims of negligence can strive for damages if they believe they have a strong case. Preparing an injury claim may be best done by a lawyer, who can hire investigators, medical experts and other third parties. Victims might even have their lawyer negotiate for the settlement or prepare for litigation.