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How Many Airbags Does Your Car Really Need?

Just how many airbags does a car actually need? There is no perfect answer to that question but carmakers are stuffing as many airbags as possible into today’s cars. The big question is do more airbags really make a car safer?

There is not doubt that airbags help save lives and minimize injuries in the event of a crash. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that at least 22,000 lives have been saved due to airbags since 1987.

One reason that manufacturers are introducing more airbags is the growing popularity of safety ratings with consumers these days. Many of the most popular models are sporting 10 airbags that come as standard equipment.

Volvo recently took the airbag war to the next level. They introduced the first pedestrian airbag on the V40. They claim that this external airbag will save the life of a pedestrian in 85 percent of pedestrian accidents. Volvo’s long-term strategy is to produce an injury proof car by the year 2020.

The pedestrian airbag works by releasing the rear of the hood when a sensor in the bumper detects a collision. The airbag instantly inflates, covering one third of the windshield, dramatically reducing the severity of pedestrian injuries.

Do You Really Need a Pedestrian Airbag?

Pedestrian accidents are much more common than you would imagine. Every day roughly 12 pedestrians are killed in accidents with cars. A total of 4,280 were killed in 2010 accounting for 12% of all traffic fatalities. In general, pedestrian accidents cost more than accidents between automobiles as the injuries are much more severe and there can be large pain and suffering settlements.

Volvo is not the only carmaker upping the ante in airbag technology.  Ford is putting a rear inflatable seat belt in many of their vehicles and GM is introducing a front center airbag in 2013 models.

While new airbags hit the market every year, cars are currently stuffed with them. By law vehicles must have dual frontal airbags and while not required almost every car being sold has side impact bags that come standard. Knee airbags are moving from luxury cars to the more mainstream market.

The truth is that airbags on their own will not make a car safe, it doesn’t matter how many you cram into it. A vehicles safety incorporates seat belt systems as well as the body design. A well-designed vehicle with six airbags is safer than a poorly designed one with 10 airbags.

Why so Many Airbags?

There is almost no chance that a knee airbag will save your life but it will shorten your hospital visit and prevent serious damage to your legs, which is why insurers love them. Insurance discounts start around 20 percent for standard airbags and could go all the way up to 40 percent if side airbags are standard on your vehicle.

It’s important to remember that these discounts only apply to the coverage’s that are affected by the airbags. If you are only carrying liability coverage there will not be a discount for your airbags. If you are hoping for a big discount on for your Volvo pedestrian airbag prepare to be disappointed. Insurers will often wait years to offer a discount on a new technology.

When shopping for insurance rates be sure to remind your insurer about all of the safety features and the airbags in your car. Ask for all discounts that you are entitled to and get as many quotes as possible, different insurers offer different discounts.