A helmet is a bicyclist’s only line of defense in the event of a collision, but what if they had the protection of airbags? Dutch car manufacturer TNO has developed the world’s first exterior automobile airbag, and the safety measure could help save the lives of both bicyclists and pedestrians, which account for a third of all traffic fatalities in the Netherlands.

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The Netherlands is one of the safest countries in the world, however over 18,000 people were injured in collisions last year, with 274 fatalities. In an effort to make the streets of the Netherlands safer, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment gave TNO a 1 million euro commission to develop exterior airbags which would give Dutch pedestrians and cyclists a fighting chance in the event of an accident.

Using crash test dummy technology, TNO monitored the place that a cyclist’s body is apt to hit on the windshield. After extensive studies, the team found the optimal place for the airbags to deploy – along the bottom of the windshield. The testing, which went on for two years, found that the exterior airbags drastically reduced bone and brain injuries in half of the test crashes where the car was going over 25 miles per hour.

TNO’s airbags are slowly infiltrating into automobile designs, but the Volvo V40 already features a pedestrian airbag, which came out last year.


Via Fast Company