Everything you wanted to know about airbags

One of the things that all vehicles with an ANCAP five-star safety rating have in common is numerous airbags.

The Audi A3, for example, which is the latest car tested by ANCAP to receive top marks, has frontal, side, head and knee airbags.

Indeed, in addition to the vehicle's model and year, the number and type of airbags each vehicle possesses is the only information provided on ANCAP's main Crash Test Results page.

The prominent placing of this safety feature must mean something. And it is surely something that every fleet manager should keep in mind when picking cars for their company's fleet.

Everyone is familiar with frontal airbags (which deploy from the steering wheel), as they are - and have been for some time - standard in most vehicles.

However, as is evident in the Audi A3, there is now a much wider variety of airbags that safety-conscious car manufacturers can include in their vehicles.

A report released in 2006 by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, titled Surviving Side Crashes, demonstrated that curtain airbags - those that deploy from above the side window - have reduced driver deaths in cars struck on the right side by 37 per cent since they were introduced.

Curtain airbags effectively form a cushion between driver and window; without them there would be almost nothing to prevent your head from striking the side of your vehicle on impact.

They are much better at protecting car occupants than thorax airbags (which protect the chest and abdomen) when it comes to rollover crashes.

Nevertheless, thorax airbags have still been proven to reduce driver deaths by a significant 26 per cent.

Smartfleet's software for fleet management can make finding cars with all the latest safety features, such as curtain and thorax airbags, a breeze.

In addition to this, accident management is included in our fleet services - so you can rest assured that, should one of your drivers be involved in a crash, we will be there to help.