Do Airbags Deploy When Car is Off?

February 27, 2024

Imagine you’re driving on a road when an animal darts into the middle of your lane, or another car slams into you from behind. Both situations can cause you to lose control of your vehicle and collide with another car, house, or tree. In the past, these violent impacts could lead to death or serious injury unless you were protected by seatbelts and airbags. Today, we can credit these safety features for significantly lowering the number of deaths on our roads each year.

But do airbags deploy when a car is off? The short answer is no. Airbags require power to activate, and a car’s airbag control unit doesn’t have access to that power when the vehicle is off.

When an airbag is deployed, it does so because a sensor detects a crash and sends an electric signal to the inflator unit. This unit generates a rapid chemical reaction that fills the airbag with nitrogen gas to deploy it. The process is fast, and it’s accompanied by the release of dust-like particles and gases into your car interior.

Many people assume that a car’s airbags must be deployed before insurance companies will consider the vehicle totaled. However, this isn’t necessarily true. While airbags are credited with saving lives, they can also injure occupants if they’re defective or deploy at inappropriate times. Injuries from defective airbags can be severe and can even include wrongful death. An experienced Atlanta car accident attorney can help you pursue compensation if you’ve been injured by an airbag that was defective or failed to work properly.


Traffic Dave is on a mission to help traffic engineers, transportation planners, and other transportation professionals improve our world.
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