This case involves a 45-year-old woman that sustained life-threatening injuries in a motor vehicle accident. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it ran off the road. It struck the guardrail and several guardrail posts on the driver side before the front of the vehicle slid under the guardrail and came to rest. The airbags did not deploy for the driver nor her front seat passenger. An expert in airbag systems was sought to review the records and determine whether the airbag should have deployed.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please discuss your background in airbag systems.
- 2. What are some reasons an airbag might not deploy in a front-end collision?
Expert Witness Response E-029609
My in-depth knowledge of the design, construction, function, and calibration of airbag systems makes me uniquely qualified to provide expert advice and testimony for cases regarding deployment, non-deployment, and failure of the airbag systems or components. I have 23 years of experience in the automotive industry working as an engineer for airbag systems suppliers designing, developing, and testing many airbag systems. In addition to creating new products, I am responsible for overall restraint system development and work closely with many OEM customers (i.e. Ford, GM, and Chrysler). I have also led advanced project teams to integrate the sensors, control module, and restraint devices for different applications. One of my projects, for example, was a design competition that involved the calibration of an advanced airbag control module for smart restraints. Smart restraints like dual thresholds, dual output inflators, and occupant sensors have now become integrated into most current production passenger vehicles. There are many reasons an airbag might not deploy in a collision. Factors include electrical power to the airbag system, airbag system fault status, airbag component or system defect, belted status of the driver and front seat passenger, occupant position, occupant size or weight, impact location on the vehicle (compared to sensor locations), impact angle or principal direction of force, crash severity and duration, impact sequence, etc. For example, an airbag might not deploy in a front end collision with a tree or pole if the crash forces measured by the frontal sensors are below a predetermined level. I have reviewed several similar cases of airbag deployment or non-deployment.