Most cars these days are fitted with airbags, but until the vehicle owner is involved in an accident there is little advice about what happens during deployment.
Some accident victims are surprised that airbags deflate, instead of
remaining taut, like cushions, after the rapid inflation. Others are
surprised that airbags ‘fire’ and think that the car is filling with
smoke because of inflammation – which could lead to those with minor
injuries, who might be best not moving until checked by a paramedic,
trying to escape.
GEM (formerly the Guild of Experienced Motorists) member Matt Day describes his crash: "We were thankful for the extremely fast deployment of the airbags," he said. "They seem to have deflated again before I realised they had inflated. What’s more the seatbelts did their job and we didn’t get thrown forward."
He then describes a panicky moment: "I could sense the car filling
rapidly with smoke and my initial reaction was to get out. I screamed at my wife to get out too."
GEM chief executive David Williams says: "Airbags are a great addition
to the safety equipment of modern cars but like so much involved with
modern motoring we have to understand how they work."
Motorists and passengers should try to remain in the same position until a first aider can check the casualty fully – unless the immediate
situation is even more dangerous. If fuel has been spilled, mobile phone users should ensure that they move to a safe distance from the scene, to prevent accidental ignition.