Could airbags mounted on the front of cars protect cyclists and pedestrians from careless motorists?
Europeans seem to think so.
A Swedish company has built and tested such a device, "that is designed to inflate outside the car upon front-end impact. It covers most of the hood and windshield, the most likely points of impact in a vehicle-pedestrian collision."
The Dutch Federation of Cyclists is calling for it to be installed on all vehicles, with a claim that it could prevent half the fatal injuries incurred by cyclists and pedestrians. (In 2006, 106 cyclists died in the Netherlands ... a country that is among the most bike-friendly.)
I'm a little skeptical.
For one thing, the researchers reported that in their crash-test dummy trials, a Fiat Stilo going 40 Km/H (25mph) and hitting a pedestrian would cause life-threatening injuries 18% of the time. That seems extremely low to me. (I sure wouldn't want to be hit by a car going 25mph!)
For another thing... with in-the-car airbags, the initial impact deploys the airbag while the driver/passenger's head is still flying toward the obstacle/impact. If the airbag deployed as the head is bouncing off the steering wheel or dashboard, or as the pedestrian/cyclist is bouncing off the car bumper or windshield... wouldn't the damage already be done? The airbag would just catapult the meat farther away from the point of impact.
How about just driving so you can avoid hitting pedestrians and cyclists?
Read more HERE.