New Volvo V40 Pedestrian Air-Bag Explained
Exterior air-bags for pedestrians and cyclists could save thousands of lives in the near future. Leading the pack is the Volvo V40 that has a pedestrian air-bag as standard. The system operates via sensors mounted in the front bumper that detect collisions. When these sense contact with a person - rather than an object such as a wall or supermarket trolley - two things happen. Firstly the bonnet lifts 10cm. This creates a gap between it and the harder components beneath. Secondly, an air-bag covers the lower third of the windscreen, parts of the a-pillars, and the wipers. The pedestrian therefore hits comparatively soft surfaces which minimises their injuries. All in a fraction of a second while the car is travelling at between 12 and 31mph. Euro NCAP – the independent body that assesses vehicle safety – therefore awarded the V40 88% in its Pedestrian Category. It also said that “Volvo demonstrated that the system would operate over a range of speeds and would detect different pedestrian statures.” But the Swedish manufacturer is not the only player in town. A company in The Netherlands has created a similar system that also protects cyclists and surely none of the other car makers are far behind.
UK Pedestrian And Cyclist Casualty FiguresThere were 453 pedestrian fatalities in the United Kingdom in 2011, according to The Department for Transport. That was 12% higher than the previous year. A further 5,454 were seriously injured which represented a 5% increase. Furthermore, 107 cyclists were killed which was 4% fewer than the previous year – but the number seriously injured rose by 16%, to 3,085. These were only the cases known to the Police so there could have been thousands of other less serious incidents. Plus, of course, some motorists were physically and physiologically injured as a result of colliding with pedestrians and cyclists. The family and friends of everyone concerned suffered too. And that was only the human cost. There was also the financial cost to The National Health Service, the Emergency Services, and the Local Authorities who had to repair the road network. Insurance companies also paid out significant sums which – inevitably – were recouped via motorists through premiums. Clearly, exterior air-bags could significantly reduce the financial/human cost of accidents. So, would it be a smart idea to make them mandatory?
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