Dating back to over one hundred years ago, the first American automobile was conveniently introduced by Henry Ford and the Ford Motor Company to the public and has since evolved into more than just a way of transportation. These mechanical masterpieces have advanced in every aspect, including appearance, performance, and safety. The way a car is designed and the precautions taken to protect the lives of its passengers are meticulous and thorough. Organizations like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and TREAD have been arranged to set the industry’s safety standards. Features as simple as a seatbelt or a tire all involve countless hours of research and improvements over previous models. Currently, the safety technologies which exist in vehicles have significantly minimized the tragic fatalities brought on by automotive accidents.
First pioneered and put into action as a standard safety feature by Porsche in 1987, airbag systems have continued to advance and protect the lives of thousands. To enforce and set standards for the new technologies of the late1950s on, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration was created in 1960. This organization released numbers in 2002 showing that over 326,000 lives have been saved as a result development. Without the control over the safety features, calculations estimate nearly 1.8 million fatalities to have occurred over the 42 year span (Hollings). For instance, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, referred to as the NHTSA, has estimated that airbags alone have saved 12,074 lives and has reduced the fatality rate by 14% from 1960 to 2002” (Hollings). The likeliness of realizing the events leading up to accidents are slim, but regardless, airbags are inflated in about one-twentieth of a second. Considering how fast the accidents ‘first responder’ inflates, a substantial amount of power must be used. In March of 1997, a rule was introduced to lessen the magnitude of the air bag’s power form 22% to 14%, positively impacting the number of deaths caused by airbags. Public awareness is also on the rise; placing young children in rear facing car seats in the back seat has become common knowledge. In relation with the increasing usage of the seat belt, only 17 deaths by airbags occurred in 2000 (Hollings). The benefits airbags provide if an accident were ever to happen are substantial. They have proven they are capable of preventing serious injuries and ultimately, the loss of a life. Based on the history, progress, and development of the airbag, thousands of lives each year will be saved and countless injuries will be prevented. Aside from the overwhelming advancements made over the past few decades, money played a major role in any forward progress. The modern technology comes with a price tag very few companies are willing to pay. Four major automotive manufacturers including DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors, and BMW, displayed their expenditures from 1998 to 2003. With the rising cost of research and development, the four companies unveiled a 375% increase on expenses over the five year period (108th Congress). One airbag manufacturer who chose to remain anonymous, revealed one total platform, which is a group of vehicles sharing similar features and air bag systems, has a cost ranging anywhere from $20 to $30 million (108th Congress). It is unethical to put a price tag on a life. Every penny put into the research and furthering these life saving devices serves a special purpose. As for what is to come in future vehicles, scientists are diligently working towards many new features that would even better the chances of coming out of a crash without serious injuries or even a fatality. Each idea is monitored by specialized sensors in different locations of the vehicle. Of these sensors, one is to detect the impact severity of a crash. Based on the reading this takes, the air bag power will vary. A severe