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New airbags aimed at protecting pedestrians--but not American ones

Leaps forward in automobile technology and road safety laws have helped to make the driving experience less dangerous for almost every motorist in America. Accidents will forever remain a reality of the road, there's no disputing that fact. However, steps forward like airbags, collision alert technology, and better manufacturing materials have drastically lowered the number of serious injuries and deaths drivers suffer each year.

However, for both Tennessee residents and Americans across the nation, the number of serious pedestrian and cyclist accidents involving automobiles has been on the rise. According to new numbers from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 16 percent of the 32,367 traffic accident fatalities suffered in 2012 befell those outside of the car.

In partial response to these numbers, and the general demand for safer city streets and intersections, the Swedish carmaker Volvo has announced that new models of their V40 car will include the first-ever exterior car airbag designed to protect pedestrians.

The airbags are one part of a fully integrated system meant to make both drivers and those either walking or on bicycles on the same roads safer. That system includes radar in the V40's grill that can detect oncoming objects and an interior camera that can detect just what those objects are. An electronic system will warn the driver of the possible pedestrian or cyclist and, if need be, stop the vehicle with automated braking. In situations where collision does in fact occur, airbags that deploy outward to soften a person's impact with the car will expand.


The V40's entire system, which is bound to inspire similar copycat features in other makes and models, is designed to be most effective at speeds between 12 and 30 mph-the velocity window in which pedestrian accidents most often occur.

While Volvo's new pedestrian safety system is not currently scheduled to appear in any of the company's American-sold models, the company's push toward a car that's safer for outside pedestrians could encourage other automakers, or even legislators, to call for similar measures. Still, for those who have been injured in a car or pedestrian accident, new safety measures have not come quickly enough. Working with a personal injury attorney can help one recover the just compensation they are rightfully owed after a collision.

Source: Popsci, "Volvo's New Exterior Airbags Protect Pedestrians," Shaunacy Ferro, Feb. 20, 2013

  • Pedestrians or cyclists who have been hurt in an auto accident have a number of legal options to explore. For more information, contact our Tennessee personal injury law page.

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