I was driving home this past stormy Sunday night when I hydroplaned going 70MPH down 400S in Atlanta, spun around, and slammed full-force into the concrete wall, all airbags deployed in my 2019 Ford Fusion. I am thankful to be alive and walk away with just a few scrapes and second-degree burns as a result of the airbag deployment. It was my first time experiencing the power of these airbags, in place to prevent you from going headfirst through the windshield.
I grew up in Detroit, MI, a.k.a. the Motor City. Naturally, much of my career has been spent working in the automotive industry, directly with the Automotive OEMs and Tier One Suppliers, supporting their various initiatives through market research. Through this hands-on experience, I discovered the gruesome history of automotive windshields and why these airbags require such force to keep you safe.
Back in the day, automotive windshield glass was constructed out of tempered glass. As a result, when people had collisions, they would often fly through the windshield headfirst, leaving many decapitated…. Until 1970 when the NHTSA implemented automotive safety glass regulations. For additional safety, On September 1, 1998, all passenger cars and light truckers sold in the US were required to have airbags on both sides of the front sear.
With a mere second to respond to accidents, these airbags deploy with such force that second-degree burns such as I experienced are normal in head on collisions as the alternative of going through the windshield is much worse.
As I walked home from the hospital, all I could think about was how often I used to let my boys ride in the front seat before reaching the CDC’s recommended age of 12 to ride in the front seat; I am 5'10' and about 142lbs so my impact was directly to my arm next to the steering wheel. Had those airbags deployed with one of my boys in the front seat when they were younger, they could have easily wound up blind or severely injured from the airbags’ sheer force. A gentle reminder to please follow the guidelines set to keep us safe so please keep your kiddos out of the front seat until they hit the recommended age and size!