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External airbags and their potential benefits

Residents of Illinois who are interested in new vehicle safety technology may know about external airbags. While these are far from being implemented on vehicles, many car parts manufacturers are considering strategies for their development. The ZF Group is one such manufacturer, and it has some safety data to back up the benefits of external airbags.

In particular, external airbags can reduce the severity of side collision injuries by up to 40 percent. ZF's own external airbag model is meant to go on the sides of a vehicle and act as an additional crumple zone. Like a giant pillow, it can absorb at least some of the impact of a crash. There are several challenges to be met, though.

One is ensuring that the sensors recognize an impending crash and deploy the airbags in the split second before the crash. Another is ensuring that the airbags don't deploy unnecessarily, as they have done many times in the past. ZF points to recent advances in lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology as providing a possible solution to these issues.

ZF's current model of external airbags weighs 13 pounds. Its dimensions will vary with the vehicle's size, but one is approximately 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide. Inflation time is 15 milliseconds, placing it on an equal standing with steering wheel airbags.

T-bones and other side collisions can result in serious injuries and extensive vehicle damage. Victims who believe they have good grounds for a personal injury case might consider consulting with an attorney and beginning the claims filing process before the statute of limitations runs out. If successful, they may be compensated for their medical expenses, lost wages and lost earning capacity, if applicable. The attorney might hire third parties to gather proof of the other driver's negligence before negotiating for a settlement.

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