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Airbags With Switches

NCJ Number
Law and Order Volume: 47 Issue: 11 Dated: November 1999 Pages: 89-92
Tom Yates
Date Published
November 1999
4 pages
This article identifies and discusses issues pertinent to the development and use of switches for airbags in police cars, which would permit them to be rendered inoperable when it is determined that circumstances in the vehicle at a given time would make airbag deployment dangerous and costly.
For police vehicles, it is the passenger airbag that poses the greatest danger. Upon deployment, computers, equipment, and racks attached to the dash can be indiscriminately hurled throughout a vehicle's interior with explosive force and speed. The difference between an old airbag system and a smart airbag system is the ability to manually or automatically switch airbags on or off based on occupant size, position, and force of impact. Smart switching systems will automatically determine whether a person is properly seated in front of an airbag. Should the occupant be too small or temporarily out of position, switches will react to turn the airbag off. No information is available regarding the ability of smart switches to detect dash-mounted equipment such as that found in law enforcement vehicles. At least for the next several years, fleet operations must rely on manually operated switches to increase occupant safety and reduce collision costs.


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