5245Re: [infoguys-list] hot air, wind bag or airbag?
- Oct 1, 2003Hi Amy,
I'd first like to say that I'm not an accident re-constructionist, but I have more than a passing knowledge of automotive related issues.
I think the first thing you need to determine is if the vehicle has ABS (Anti-lock Braking System). Then you need to determine which sensor(s) send the speed signal to the cars computer for the air bag (it might have a seperate air bag computer). Find a GOOD Ford brake technician via referral. I assume a re-constructionist can determine the speed of the vehicle based on skid marks, etc, but the vehicle's computer has no way of knowing how fast the car is going if it's skidding sideways or the brakes are firmly applied. Without ABS it won't have the wheel (speed) sensors to send a signal of wheel speed. Also, without ABS, if the brakes were firmly applied, the speed reading sent to the computer would be 0 mph (or very close to it). In this case the only source for wheel speed would be at the transmission &/or the speedometer head in the dash, in which case both readings would also be 0 mph.
On the other hand, if the vehicle does have ABS an accurate speed reading IS available to the vehicle's computer up until impact, UNLESS it's skidding sideways.
Bottom line: If the front tires show FORWARD skid marks up until impact, the speed reading was zero & the bag should not have deployed. The reason I say front tires is because it's a front wheel drive vehicle & that's where the speedometer reading is most likely taken from. Also, the rear tires could show skidding & it could still have ABS (some vehicles only have ABS on the front brakes because the front brakes do 80% to 90% of the stopping.
Good luck & let us know how it turns out.
Ramona, CA (San Diego County)
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Sent: Tuesday, September 30, 2003 9:29 AM
Subject: [infoguys-list] hot air, wind bag or airbag?
I need to get your opinions on this interesting airbag cases.
On a Saturday evening, a Female Driver of a 1996 Ford Taurus was on her way
home from the supermarket. The Driver was wearing her seat belt. Traveling on
State Road 007, the Female Driver entered the entrance ramp of the Turnpike. As
she traveled in the inside lane of the entrance ramp, the Female Driver’s
vehicle slid on the rain dampened roadway, crossed through the outside lane, and
ultimately collided with the outside concrete barrier. The vehicle impacted
the wall on the right front of the vehicle at a speed of approximately 17 miles
per hour. As a result of the crash, the driver’s side air bag deployed,
killing the Female Driver. Damage to the vehicle from the crash was minimal.
The Female Driver, Sally, was 29 years old at the time of the accident. She
was a single mother and left behind her 3 ½ year old son. Sally was 5'9" and
weighed 130 lbs, which is above average in stature. The primary cause of the
Female Driver’s death was determined to be a lacerated vena cava (heart). She
also suffered secondary injuries, including fractures to her right and left ribs,
and significant bruising. It is believed that, if the air bag had not
deployed, the Female Driver would still be alive today. Several EMT’s who responded
to the scene of the accident reported that they were surprised that Sally died
as a result of the crash, based on the severity of damage to the Taurus. A
reconstruction of the crash estimated the Driver’s speed at the time of impact
with the wall to be approximately 17 miles per hour, but because it was at an
angle the actual impact speed adjusted for that angle, as is important for air
bag deployment determinations, was between 7 to 10 miles per hour. Ford Motor
Company designed the subject 1996 Ford Taurus to incorporate an air bag that,
in frontal or angled-frontal crashes, must deploy at speeds of 14 miles per
hour or greater, and must not deploy at speeds of 8 miles per hour or less. The
bag "may" deploy if the accident is between 8 mph and 14 mph. The Plaintiff
asserts that the air bag system for the 1996 Ford Taurus was defectively designed
because it deployed in a low speed crash (i.e. below 10 mph where the female
driver would not have been killed or seriously injured without a bag
deployment, and that it was unreasonably dangerous to deploy an air bag with such risk
being possible. The Plaintiff alleges that because a typical consumer would
not expect to die as a result of a crash similar to the instant case and because
Ford failed to set the deployment threshold at 10 mph or above, the vehicle
One Saturday evening, an unbelted Female Driver of a 1996 Ford Taurus was on
her way home from the supermarket. Traveling on State Road 007, with a speed
limit of 35 mph, under rainy weather conditions and limited visibility, the
Female Driver entered the entrance ramp of the Turnpike at 55 mph. As she
entered the inside lane of the entrance ramp, the Driver’s vehicle slid on the
roadway, began to rotate in a counter clockwise manner, and crossed through the
outside lane, and ultimately collided with the outside concrete barrier. At the
time of the impact, the subject vehicle was traveling at a speed of 27 mph.
Evidence markings at the accident scene revealed that the vehicle’s right front
tire made 3 foot 11 inch scuff marks located along the concrete barrier wall.
The right front of the vehicle then continued to scrape along the concrete
barrier wall and came to a final rest. The Female Driver’s insurance company
reported the vehicle damage as a total loss. Although her safety air bag deployed,
Sally was tragically killed as a result of the accident. It is undisputed that
the air bag was the primary cause of Sally’s death.
Ford designs its air bags to protect occupants from serious or fatal injuries
in frontal collisions. The impact dynamics of this crash with this 1996 Taurus
’s air bag system resulted in a change of velocity that was in the range the
bag was meant to deploy (i.e. above the 8 mph "no fire" threshold set by
Ford). In other words, when the vehicle hit the wall, the speed at the time of the
impact was high enough to trigger the deployment of the air bag. An
aggravating factor to the Driver’s injuries was the fact that Investigating officers
from the law enforcement agency reported that the Female Driver was not wearing
her seat belt at the time of the accident. Sally had a history of violating the
law by not wearing her seatbelt. If the Driver had been wearing her seat
belt, she would have been in the proper seating position so as to avoid the
resulting injury from a deploying air bag. However, in this case, she came to be
very close to the driver’s air bag when it deployed, and because she was
"out-of-position", the force of the air bag had no where to go but into her chest
which was just inches from the steering wheel where the bag was. In addition, at
the time of the manufacture of the subject vehicle and its air bag system, it
was not possible to engineer an air bag system that both met the federal
government standards, and also avoided completely the possibility of life
threatening injuries when the occupant is in very close proximity to a deploying air
bag. In fact, the federal government stated that, "these deaths did not occur at
random; they typically involved certain common factors. The persons who have
been killed or seriously injured by an air bag were extremely close to the air
bag at the time of deployment." Sally had to have been extremely close to the
air bag before the crash occurred. If she had followed the car’s visor
warning to stay "as far back as possible from the air bag", this tragedy would not
have occurred. Finally, the 1996 Taurus utilized the state of the art
technology that was available at the time of its manufacture for its class in the
United States market. The air bag system in the 1996 Taurus was at the head of its
class. The severity of this crash is representative of a typical air bag
deployment crash. The air bag system contained in this vehicle was safe, effective
in most collisions, and operated as designed and intended. It has saved
thousands of lives, and while unbelted occupants who put themselves
"out-of-position" may be at risk, the benefits in saved lives is great. Ford was not
"negligent" in its design, and the bag was not "unreasonably" dangerous.
Ok, any of you case sleuths want to figure out which side is right?
all opinions a re welcome!!
thanks for your input folks..
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