Wheels (Australia) - - Safety Breakthrou­ghs -

Amer­i­can John W. Het­rick was granted the first airbag patent in 1951 and airbags as a re­place­ment for seat­belts were tri­alled in the early 1970s by GM and Ford.

Mercedes-benz led the way in pro­duc­tion, of­fer­ing the tech in its 1981 W126 S- Class, with Chrysler and Honda soon fol­low­ing suit. From early driver-only airbag in­stal­la­tions, to­day’s cars utilise front, side and cur­tain airbags, driver’s knee airbags and even seat­belt airbags.

Although ex­act fig­ures would ap­pear hard to come by, the NHTSA claims that airbags saved 44,869 lives in the US be­tween 1987 and 2015.

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