Air Bags to Protect Those Outside the Car, Not In It


A "Moederfiets or Motherbike" in the Netherlands

In North America, putting three kids on a "motherbike" is unheard of, let alone without helmets. It just isn't safe in a culture where bikes are an afterthought. In the Netherlands, it is the other way around, and now the Dutch Cycling Federation is demanding the installation of air bags on the hoods of cars to protect cyclists. "In the past many measures have been taken to protect those sitting inside cars but hardly anything has been done to protect people outside cars," it said in a statement on Monday. "The federation calls on politicians and the car industry to take measures that could limit the chance of serious injury."


Sweden's Autoliv has developed a hood-mounted airbag that inflates when a front end impact is detected, covering most of the hood and some of the windshield. (Inventorspot)

"Here in Europe, roughly 15 per cent of all traffic fatalities are pedestrians," Mats Ödman, vice-president of corporate communications for AutoLiv, is quoted in the Globe and Mail. "What happens is most of them hit their head on the hood ... and it's the hard part that you hit. We started by addressing that problem, using U-shaped airbag technology to lift the end of the hood to make it flex instead."

Car manufacturers have so far shown little interest in the product, Mr. Ödman said. "People are eager to pay for their own safety, but not eager to pay for somebody else's. There have to be laws to make sure these types of products are used."

The Dutch Cycling Federation says that 60 lives a year could be saved and 1500 serious injuries avoided. Here in North America, thousands of pedestrians and cyclists are injured and killed every year this way, yet the safety technology is invested in the cell-phone/ipod/lunch distracted red-light-running driver. It's time to change that. ::Yahoo News

Read more on bike safety:
Freakonomics on Bike Safety
Bike Safety Tips From MP Olivia Chow
It's More Dangerous NOT To Ride a Bike