The term “passive safety” refers to products that protect occupants during a crash; primarily airbags and seatbelts.
When a collision occurs, occupants not wearing seatbelts continue to move forward at the vehicle's pre-crash speed until they make contact with the vehicle's interior (the steering wheel, instrument panel, windscreen, etc.) Belted occupants come to a more gradual stop by being secured directly to the vehicle's structure. In severe crashes, even properly belted occupants may come into contact with the vehicle's interior.
In severe crashes the seatbelt system can be enhanced with modern features such as pretensioners, that tighten the belts in an event of a crash. Airbags supplement the seatbelt by reducing the chance that the occupant's head and upper body will strike some part of the vehicle's interior. By distributing crash forces more evenly across the occupant's body they also help reduce the risk of serious injury.
Airbags inflate quickly during a crash. Their purpose is to cushion occupants and provide protection to their bodies before they strike interior objects such as the steering wheel or the instrument panel. Modern vehicles may contain multiple airbags in various side and frontal locations.
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