California residents may have heard that auto manufacturers are developing external airbags. One major developer, the ZF Group, claims that external airbags can reduce the severity of accident injuries by 40 percent. The model it is developing comes in at around 13 pounds and is approximately 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide. Its inflation time is an impressive 15 milliseconds, comparable to that of steering wheel airbags.

The airbag’s purpose is to deploy immediately before a side collision so that it can act as an added crumple zone and absorb some of the impact. With recent advances in ultrasonics, ZF says that it can develop sensors that will recognize what’s coming toward them and react accordingly. The new tech will also prevent accidents where the airbags deploy at unnecessary times.

The concerns are of a much higher order with external airbags since other predictive systems do not go to such drastic measures. Others, for example, will tighten the seatbelt or adjust the suspension if they sense a collision. While the benefits of external airbags are clear and may push more manufacturers to develop them, it will most likely take a while for them to be perfected and implemented.

Side collisions can be particularly severe, but victims may have recourse through personal injury claims. If successful, victims could be covered for medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, rehabilitative care and more. However, success may require proving that the at-fault party was negligent. This is where a personal injury attorney could be particularly helpful.