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How did it feel when you hit the airbag?

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posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:01 PM
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I am not sure this is the right subforum for this topic, but I trust someone can move it if that seems more appropriate.

I was involved in a car accident in 2003, in which the airbags of the car I was riding in deployed. There were no deaths, and no (as far as I know) permanent injuries sustained in this accident. So quite a "happy ending", compared to many other car accidents. The thing that has started to bother me a bit is that my experience seems to be somewhat anomalous from what I have been able to gather through the years. I will relate my (subjective) experience below in the hope that someone can add their own experiences and perhaps other insights.

The car we were driving was a Volvo S80 sedan, which I believe was a 2000 model (I am not quite sure about this but can probably get the exact model if it seems significant). I was in the front passenger seat and my brother in law was driving. We practice driving on the right hand side, so I was to the right of the drivers position. The accident happened on a stretch of road that had a speed limit of 80 km/h (about 50 mph) and we were driving at a little above the speed limit, I think around 90 km/h (about 56 mph).

The accident happened when an oncoming car (a small Ford Focus I think) suddenly, and with no warning, swerved into our lane and we hit it in the passenger side. We later learned that the driver was trying to avoid some pedestrians which he thought he saw. There was little time to do anything, but my brother in law managed to brake for about a second or so. We looked at the skid marks and found that they were between 2-2,5 meters (6,5-8,2 feet). I have no estimate for the speed of the other car, but as he was skidding sideways when we hit him, his speed was possibly a good deal lower. During the collision our car moved the other car a bit in our direction of travel.

The front of the Volvo buried itself in the Focus as far as the midconsole, and the passenger seat in the Focus (which was thankfully unccupied) was upside down in the car, up in the roof of the cabin. The Volvo was totally wrecked up to the passenger compartment (as it is designed to be I believe), and both cars where later written of as unsalvagable. So, there was qute a bit of force involved.

My experience of the crash itself was kind of stretched out. I remember seeing the car coming, lifting my arms to protect my head and curling my body somewhat by lifting up my knees and tensing all my muscles (this was instinctive). Then there was the loudest bang I have ever heard and a feeling (and this is what is so strange) a feeling of falling into the softest down bedding one can imagine. I never saw the airbag, of course, and I never felt anything hitting me in any way. Just this feeling of incredible softness. I think this was all over in less than two seconds, but it seemed to stretch out a lot longer.

When I opened my eyes I thought the car was on fire because there was a lot of smoke, but we soon realised that this was from the airbags. I never saw the airbag other than in a deflated state. My brother in law sustained a large scratch from the airbag catching his wristwatch, but other than that we were both unhurt. The first scratch I received was from the IV that they inserted into my arm at the hospital later on. The driver of the other car was unconcious but got off whith a few broken ribs and a concussion, which is perhaps even more astonishing as he was not even wearing his seatbelt and the drivers wheel looked like a figure 8.

What I have been able to gather from reading and talking to other people, nobody has described this feeling of "falling into softness" like I experienced. I have therefore started to wonder if this is a bit atypical?

These are the factors that I have recognised as significant:

1) The car we were driving had some pretty sophisticated security features built in, most notably the airbags, automatic seatbelt tighteners. a front designed to collapse on impact and a security wall between the engine department and the cabin.

2) We hit the other car in its side, which contributed to "cushion" the impact somewhat, as the other car also folded inwards.

3) The other car was skidding and hitting us sideways (actually jumping/skipping sideways according to the tire marks)

4) The Volvo had the larger mass of the two cars involved, which lessened the impact forces acting on us.

5) My instinctive "curl up into a ball" reaction probably made it possible for me to "roll" backwards (as the seatbelt tightened)

6) The speed might have been lower due to our car braking - I have no way to establish this (although the stopping distance for 90 km/h is about 40 meters on dry asphalt and we didn't travel more than 2 to perhaps 3 meters at the most before impact).

Well, people of ATS, I realise not everyone will have taken part in a traffic accident, but there must be someone I suspect? "Falling into a soft down bed" much, anyone? Perhaps the engineering and technical crowd might chime in as well on the reasons it might feel that way?

I have read a lot of other descriptions and they vary from "punched in the face" to "felt nothing at all". So it will be interesting to hear what others think it felt like.


BT




posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:28 PM
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a reply to: beetee
It didn't hurt, but I got that blurry daze that you get it someone punches you in the face.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:30 PM
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This is an interesting story. I've never been in an auto accident, so unfortunately I can't provide much input. Will be watching this thread



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:37 PM
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How did it feel when you hit the airbag?

Damn hot and powdery! Like you get a slight punch with a boxing glove to the nose and on the body it felt like I walked into a object like against the upper side of the fence. It was the belt.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:45 PM
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originally posted by: verschickter
How did it feel when you hit the airbag?

Damn hot and powdery! Like you get a slight punch with a boxing glove to the nose and on the body it felt like I walked into a object like against the upper side of the fence. It was the belt.

Now that you mention it, it was hot. And there was powder.
I had to cut the deployed bag off of the steering wheel so I could drive away afterwards.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:47 PM
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sounds like you got it easy. I've never been in a wreck where there was an airbag present to deploy, so have no experience to report personally.

My idiot youngest son wrecked his car because he was being and idiot (that's right....no slack) and hurt his right AC joint when the passenger airbag hyperextended it backwards (he reached in front of the passenger on reflex). He may end up needing surgery, but i know how horrible that surgery will be for him, so we are trying rehab therapy first.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:49 PM
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BTW, OP you are lucky, very lucky!

a reply to: butcherguy

You´re lucky it could drive ^^ Was it a slow speed accident? Don´t get me wrong, any accident is bad, just wondering.
Because my car was devastated.
edit on 4-3-2016 by verschickter because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 05:55 PM
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a reply to: verschickter

I have been in worse without an airbag.
I had someone cut me off and couldn't get stopped in time. Screwed the bumper up and broke the plastic grill on a Chevy Colorado pickup truck, but it was driveable.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 06:07 PM
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That feeling of time being "Stretched out".

I watched an experiment where they tried to find out if time really does slow down when people have accidents because so many people say "it was all in slow motion"

What they found was when in an accident (extreme situation) our brain notices and records much much more detail of what is going on around us than it normally would.
Because we don't normally notice or record so much detail, it means that when we play it back there is much more info to sort through. Normally that much input would only be acquired after a much longer period of time, hence our brain perceives it as being slowed down.

Maybe thats why the bag seemed so soft, because your mind perceived your meeting with the bag as being very slow?
edit on 4-3-2016 by VoidHawk because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 06:08 PM
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I don't remember the airbag part at all. I did have "airbag burns" from the chemicals used in them at the time. Kinda like rug burn, but they hurt. I have no doubt the airbag had a part in saving my life though, so I wore the burns with pride.

I do remember it made a loud POP, but there were a lot of other loud noises going on as well.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 06:23 PM
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a reply to: beetee


1) The car we were driving had some pretty sophisticated security features built in, most notably the airbags, automatic seatbelt tighteners. a front designed to collapse on impact and a security wall between the engine department and the cabin.

Called crumple zones, designed to absorb the energy away from the crew compartment and direct it into the vehicle. That and the tranny and engine are driven under the floor boards further directing energy away from you.

The last thing you report about no injuries from airbags is you were faced forward, not twisted side ways or had your head turned, taking the pressure to your neck, spine and skeletal frame full on front.

The best of all scenarios, you sir are smart to have purchased a volvo…



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 06:24 PM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

I can attest to that. When I was very young, I had a pirate ship made out of wood. It was on the table and I think the opening window pushed it down. However, out of some reason I put my hands in front of my eyes because I did not want to see it crash or smth. it was more a reflex. But I did not hear the "bang" so I opened and saw the ship falling the last centimeters and then all three pillars broke.

My first and only slowmo situation.

Edit: Possible explanation, I was just really fast with my hands.
edit on 4-3-2016 by verschickter because: (no reason given)



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 06:32 PM
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originally posted by: verschickter
a reply to: VoidHawk

I can attest to that. When I was very young, I had a pirate ship made out of wood. It was on the table and I think the opening window pushed it down. However, out of some reason I put my hands in front of my eyes because I did not want to see it crash or smth. it was more a reflex. But I did not hear the "bang" so I opened and saw the ship falling the last centimeters and then all three pillars broke.

My first and only slowmo situation.

Edit: Possible explanation, I was just really fast with my hands.

Hi verschickter
I'd say you were fast with your hands, but only because your brain was aware of much more than it would normally be.



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 06:38 PM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

But then it means the ship was accelerating slower than 9.82 m/s/s

On or another ;-) So for me the plausible explanation is, like you said, brain went into slowmo after my hands covered the eyes and thuss I thought more time went by when I opened the fingers to see the ship crash just in time.

I think it´s my wording again



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 06:41 PM
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originally posted by: verschickter
a reply to: VoidHawk

I think it´s my wording again


LOL you and me both



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 10:45 PM
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a reply to: beetee

Broke my glasses, cut my nose....choked on the powder for a few hours. It was instantaneous. CRASH! BOOM! EXPLODE!

THEN immediately "What the F--- just happened!!??"



posted on Mar, 4 2016 @ 10:51 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk
That feeling of time being "Stretched out".

I watched an experiment where they tried to find out if time really does slow down when people have accidents because so many people say "it was all in slow motion"


I recall one fairly enthusiastic car crash when I was about 10, my dog, in the back seat with me, went sailing through the air towards the windshield, I easily reached out and caught him like a football as he went by. I recall thinking it was amazingly easy to do, given the slow speed at which he was flying through the air.



posted on Mar, 5 2016 @ 02:06 AM
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a reply to: beetee

The last time I was in even a little bump in a car, was when I was about eleven, at which time my grandfather and I were in a queue of traffic, and he rear ended the car in front at a little over ten miles an hour.

No comparison.

However, when you said Volvo, you answered your own question. Volvos are built like tanks, and as you rightly said, come with safety features which usually beat the pants off the features of other automobiles. That being said, airbags are not always the most fun. The first few generations of airbags had serious design flaws, like fragmentation from the detonation of the inflators, which would sometimes torpedo its way into the passenger or driver, at between mid chest, or the lower abdomen.

But yes, between the crumple zones, the airbags, the seat belt restrictor, I am not surprised that you had a soft landing.



posted on Mar, 5 2016 @ 10:00 AM
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Thank you for yor contributions, everyone. From the people who have related their own experiences, I cannot help but notice that softness seems again not to figure prominently so far.

I have started to think that it might be that in my case the circumstances lined up so close to optimal that it sort of ended up as a kind of "ultimate" airbag experience. But, I have also sometimes entertained the idea that the physical factors lined up so optimally that I didn't in fact hit the airbag with any significant force at all, and that most of the actual work was done (again very optimally) by the seatbelt and the car itself. This would mean that the "incredible softness" would result from a mere brush with the airbag.

That the seatbelt and other safty features functioned almost optimally is perhaps best demonstrated by the fact that I received no bruising from the seatbelt. Nor did I even have a nosebleed afterwards (but remember I did have my forearms up protecting my face on impact).

All in all I realise, of course, that I was incredibly lucky (as some have pointed out), and that to experience such violent forces and walk away without a scratch is hardly the norm - although safety features in vehicles are constantly improving.
I also realise that the car was very well built, and I even wrote a letter to the manufacturer full of praise at one point :-)

BT



posted on Mar, 5 2016 @ 10:07 AM
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a reply to: VoidHawk




Maybe thats why the bag seemed so soft, because your mind perceived your meeting with the bag as being very slow?


Now, this is an interesting thought. But, if so many people experience this slowing-down-of-time effect with the brain going into overdrive, shouldn't a lot of airbag encounters then be perceived in the same manner?

BT







 
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