Many might be familiar with the traditional front, side and curtain airbags, but the knee airbag is less known and perhaps less available as well.
A knee airbag is a protective device that can be found in some vehicles, designed specifically to protect the legs and knees of the front-seat occupants during a collision.
Situated beneath the steering column for the driver and the glove compartment for the passenger, these airbags aim to mitigate the risk of injuries in the lower extremities and limit the forward movement of the occupants during an accident.
The development of the knee airbag has a rich history that dates back to the late 20th century. The introduction of the first commercial airbag by Mercedes-Benz in 1981 sparked a revolution in the automobile safety industry. However, these early versions mainly focused on the head and chest areas, largely overlooking the lower body.
It wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that the industry began to realize the necessity of additional airbags for optimal safety. Numerous studies indicated a high rate of leg injuries in car accidents, and in response, car manufacturers began exploring ways to address this gap in safety. This marked the beginning of the development of knee airbags.
The first knee airbag was introduced by Kia in the Kia Sportage. The implementation and refinement of the knee airbag concept have gradually evolved over the years, and it has now become available in many vehicles.
So, how exactly does a knee airbag work?
The mechanics behind knee airbags are similar to those of frontal airbags. The vehicle is equipped with crash sensors, which continuously monitor the car’s deceleration. When the sensors detect a collision, they send a signal to the airbag control unit, which then initiates the deployment of the airbag. The deployment process involves an inflator that rapidly fills the airbag with gas, causing it to expand. All of this happens within milliseconds of the detected collision.
The knee airbag is designed to inflate in a manner that creates a cushion between the occupants’ knees and the hard structures of the vehicle interior, absorbing the impact and protecting the lower body from serious injuries. In conjunction with the seatbelt, it also helps to properly position the occupant during a crash, reducing the risk of “submarining” or sliding under the seatbelt.
However, the knee airbag is not without its challenges and controversies. Some studies have shown that knee airbags have limited effectiveness in real-world crash scenarios, while others claim they may even increase the risk of injury in certain situations.
Despite these debates, knee airbags have undeniably contributed to enhancing vehicle safety over the past decades, and their continual refinement is a testament to the relentless pursuit of safer travel.
Like every piece of technology, knee airbags have room for improvement, and ongoing research and development are bound to lead to further enhancements in the future. As we look forward, the ultimate goal remains clear: to make every journey safer than the last.
Which cars come with a knee airbag in Malaysia?
If you want to know which cars on Malaysia are on sale with a knee airbag, here’s a trick. Typically it will have an airbag count of 7 instead of just the usual 6, so what you can do is use CarBase.my’s Advanced Search tool and set the airbag count to minimum 7.
Go ahead, have a look: Cars with at least 7 airbags on sale in Malaysia
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