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Re: Euro airbags

Airbags that meet US Specs are typically larger.  But they don't have to
be.  Apparently US airbags are designed with to inflate more quickly/forcefu
lly.  This is to act as a passive restraint system, i.e. restrain an
unbelted person.  Airbags were adopted in the US primarily to restrain
unbelted people.  When the law was originally written, less than 50% of
Americans wore their seatbelt.  Even now, I've read that the number is not
much greater than 60%.  So, Phil, you are correct.

Luis, your information makes total sense.  But the size of the bag relates
back to the issue of unbelted people.  The bigger the bag, the more the
likelyhood of an unbelted person hitting the bag squarely.  

So really, the US Congress made a mistake and they now understand this. 
They believed the skewed statistics given to them by lobbyists (taken a
look at justification for maintaining 55 mph speed limits lately?).

Also, AFAIK, the airbags in US bound Audis are identical to the Euro ones. 
Can someone who has part #'s for both confirm this?

- Josh Pinkert
- flush@radix.net
From: Luis Marques <marques@ti.com>
To: quattro@coimbra.ans.net
Date: Thursday, May 29, 1997 2:51 PM
Subject: Re: Euro airbags

>I too have read that the euro airbags are smaller and so fit in a
>smaller package in a more sporty steering wheel.  Perhaps the US airbags
>are simply larger because Congress wrote the law that way and so all
>auto manufacturers had to comply with it.  I seriously doubt that it was
>because they are based on the premise that the ocupant is not using his
>seat belt. 
>>From a friend's experience, I can tell you that the bigger the air bag,
>the more harm it can do when a person is not bucked-up.  What happens is
>that, upon impact, the body "accelerates" towards the steering wheel
>before the airbag deploys.  Once the body is close to the wheel, it
>fires and pushes the body back into the seat with explosive force,
>breaking ribs, arms, and sometimes killing the person.  So, wearing a
>seat belt is just as important when you have an airbag, if not more.
>I have the feeling that the euro airbags were sized according to more
>"real world" accident tests and data and are just as effective in
>protecting the driver in head-on collision, while minimizing the
>possible risks associated with it.  I fact, there is a movement underway
>to reevaluate the size of US airbags for the potential harm they can do
>to small people, or those that forget to buckle up.  If I had my choice
>with a new car, I would opt for the smaller one.
>Luis Marques
>'87 4kcsq, no airbag