Illinois residents may be interested to know that car parts manufacturer ZF is developing the technology behind external airbags and that these features may help protect drivers in side-impact crashes. The safety tech is far from being perfected, so it will not be introduced to the driving public anytime soon; nonetheless, the benefits are undeniable and can become an incentive for other manufacturers to get onboard.

ZF has released safety data showing that external airbags can reduce the severity of vehicle occupants’ injuries by up to 40 percent. It is developing its own external airbags to go on the sides of vehicles and act as an additional crumple zone. It protects occupants by absorbing some of the force of the collision.

According to ZF, advances in lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology will help address several challenges. These challenges include getting the predictive system to recognize an impending crash, getting the airbags to deploy a split second before the crash and ensuring that the airbags do not deploy at unnecessary times.

ZF’s external airbag model is approximately 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide, but dimensions will likely vary with each vehicle. It weighs about 13 pounds. Its 15-millisecond inflation time is comparable to that of a steering wheel airbag, which is outstanding considering the greater size.

Airbags and other safety tech can only do so much, though. Drivers are responsible for their actions behind the wheel, so if they drive distracted, drowsy or in some other negligent way and cause a motor vehicle accident, they will be at fault. Those who are only partially at fault may be eligible for compensation under Illinois’ contributory negligence rule, but it might take a lawyer to determine this. A lawyer may also assist with the filing of the injury claim and the negotiation for a settlement.