North Carolina residents who keep up with advances in vehicle safety technology have no doubt already heard of external airbags. Like self-driving cars, this technology is far from becoming a reality since the technology has yet to be perfected, but some new safety data may encourage car parts manufacturers to pursue a strategy with them.

One of these manufacturers, the ZF Group, has discovered that external airbags reduce injury severity in the event of a side collision by up to 40 percent. ZF has developed its own model of external airbags, which deploy from the sides of a vehicle to act as an additional crumple zone and absorb the shock of a side collision.

There are several challenges with this safety technology, which include how to get the airbags to deploy a split second before a crash and how to prevent them from deploying at unnecessary times. Airbags pose a much more drastic solution than the current predictive systems in place that protect vehicle occupants by tightening the seat belts or adjusting the suspension.

ZF believes that advances in lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology will help them address these challenges. Its current model has an inflation time of 15 milliseconds, which is similar to those of steering wheel airbags. This is an impressive number considering the size of the model (80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide) and weight (about 13 pounds).

Drivers should never become complacent as a result of the safety tech in their vehicles. If they act negligently, such as by driving distracted or drowsy, and cause a car accident, they will be held liable. Victims, for their part, can see a lawyer about filing a claim against the responsible party’s auto insurance company. An attorney could hire experts to prove negligence and demonstrate that the plaintiff’s reported injuries are accident-related. Victims can have their lawyers negotiate for a settlement.