You are on page 1of 19

Physics Module 1 Moving About

1. Vehicles do not typically travel at a constant speed

identify that a typical journey involves speed changes

A typical journey will involve speed changes. This may be slowing down due to
getting caught in traffic, speeding up while going downhill, slowing down while
turning etc.

distinguish between the instantaneous and average speed of vehicles


and other bodies

The instantaneous speed of any object is the speed at that particular instant of time.
Eg. During a 100m race this may be at the 50m point. (Which may be 18.5 m/s)
The average speed of any object is the speed over a period of time, or a distance.
Eg. During a 100m race the average speed of the runner from the starting point to
the 50m point may be 10m/s.
The average speed is the total distance traveled divided by the total time taken,
whereas the instantaneous speed is just a particular point in time (no other
considerations are take such as how far traveled previously).

distinguish between scalar and vector quantities in equations

There is one main difference between scalar and vector quantities. That is that scalar
quantities do not give the direction in which the object is moving, the only give the
magnitude. Vector quantities give both direction and magnitude.
Eg. 100m/s Scalar since there is no direction given
(In this case this was speed)
100m/s North East Vector since there is a direction given (This was Velocity)
Examples of Scalar and Vector quantities:
Speed - Scalar
Volume - Scalar
Distance - Scalar
Time Scalar

Velocity - Vector
Acceleration - Vector
Displacement - Vector
Force Vector

Distance is the total length travelled by an object


from start to stop. It is a scalar quantity.
Displacement is the direct distance from an objects
start to stop. It is a vector quantity.

Distance

Displacement

compare instantaneous and average speed with instantaneous and


average velocity

Instantaneous speed is the speed of an object at any particular point in time.


Average speed is the distance traveled during a particular period of time divided by
the time itself.
Instantaneous and average speeds are both scalar quantities.
Velocity is a measure of the time rate of displacement. It is a vector quantity.
The instantaneous velocity is the velocity (speed and direction) of an object at a
particular point in time.
The average velocity is the total displacement of that object divided by the time
period.
For motion in a straight line, the magnitude of the velocity is the same as that for
speed.

define average velocity as:

r refers to the total displacement. t refers to the total time. This equation is used
to finds the average velocity and is the total displacement divided by the time.
Example question:
If a cyclist rides a distance of 6km north and then 8km east in 20 minutes. Determine:
a) Distance traveled
b) Displacement
c) Average speed
8km
d) Average Velocity
Answers:
a) Distance = 6+8 = 14km
b) Displacement using Pythagoras theorem: 10km
Direction is given by tan x = 8/6
x = 53.1 degrees

6km

Therefore Displacement is 10km north 53.1 degrees East


c) Average Speed = Distance traveled / Time taken:
= 14km / 20 minutes
= 0.7 km/m
d) Average Velocity = Total Displacement / Time:
= 10km North 53.1 degrees East / 20 minutes
= 0.5 km/m North 53.1 degrees East.

Displacement

Present information graphically of:


o Displacement vs. time
o Velocity vs. time
o For objects with uniform and non-uniform linear velocity

Displacement-Time The gradient of a displacement-time graph represents the velocity

Velocity-Time

The gradient of a velocity-time graph represents acceleration


The displacement of an object during a time interval can be
determined by obtaining the area under the graph

Acceleration-Time

2. An analysis of the external forces on vehicles helps to understand the


effects of acceleration and deceleration

describe the motion of one body relative to another

!
! !
Va = Va Vb
b

When the velocity of an object is measured by a moving


observer it is referred to as the Relative Velocity. The
equation to the left states that the Velocity of A (object)
relative to B (Observer) . Is the velocity of A minus the
Velocity of B.

For Example: If you are in car travelling at a constant velocity of 90km/h due west
on a straight road, and there is a car ahead of you travelling at 100 km/h due west.
Then the relative velocity of that Car:
Relative Velocity = 100 90 = 10 km/h due west.
For Example: If you are in car travelling at a constant velocity of 90km/h due west
on a straight road, and there is a car ahead of you travelling at 100 km/h due east.
Then the relative velocity of that Car:
Relative Velocity = -100 90 = -190 km/h due west
= 190 km/h due east

identify the usefulness of using vector diagrams to assist solving


problems

Vector diagrams are useful when trying to solve problems in which objects are
moving in different directions. As was seen in the cyclist problem, the use of the
Vector diagram allowed us to clearly depict the situation and made solving the
problem clearer and simpler.
eg. Find V1/2 = V1 - V2

V1/2 = V1 - V2 = V1 + (-V2)

V1

V1

V2
V1 - 2
V2

Note: To subtract Vector 2 from Vector 1. Then Add Vector 2 to


Vector 1 (In-Diagram)

explain the need for a net external force to act in order to change the
velocity of an object

Newtons First Law: An object will stay at rest or travel at a constant velocity unless
acted upon by an external unbalanced force.
Newtons First Law relates to a concept called Inertia. Inertia is the tendency of an
object to resist a change in motion. Inertia is not a force; it is a property of all
objects. The inertia of an object depends only on its mass. For example, a larger
object travelling at a high speed is harder to stop than a lighter object travelling at
the same speed.
This means that in order to change the velocity of an object you need an external
unbalanced net force. The vector sum of the forces acting on an object is called the
net force.
For example when a car accelerates, the thrust provided by the engine allows to car
to overcome the friction applied to it and allows it to change its velocity.
It is difficult to see the law applied on Earth as there are always forces applied on the
object on Earth, eg. Air resistance, friction, gravity etc. But in space where there is
little external force this law holds true.
Therefore, in a perfect vacuum, unless an object has a force applied on it, it will
remain at rest or move in the same direction at the same speed.

describe the actions that must be taken for a vehicle to change


direction, speed up and slow down

In order to speed up, the thrust provided by the engine of the vehicle must exceed
the friction that is being applied on the vehicle. I.e. It must have a overall net force
in the forward direction.
In order to slow down, the thrust provided by the engine of the vehicle must be less
than that of the friction that is applied on the vehicle. This can be done by releasing
foot off the accelerator which will result in the gradual slowing down of the vehicle or
the brake can be applied which increases the amount of resistance (friction) between
the vehicle and the ground, resulting in a more rapid deceleration.
In order to change direction of a vehicle, a external unbalanced force must be
applied from one side of the vehicle. Eg. When a car wants to turn right, the steering
wheel is turned right which causes more force to be applied on the right side of the
car resulting in the car to change direction to the right.

describe the typical effects of external forces on bodies including:


friction between surfaces
air resistance

Friction is the resistance (in terms of motion) between the surfaces of two objects.
It decelerates that object.
Air resistance acts in the opposite direction of motion to an object and also
decelerates it.
Gravity (Weight) is the force that pulls all bodies towards the ground. It has no
obvious affect on most objects, but on objects that need to move upwards such as
rockets, gravity poses as a significant resistance to them.
Normal Reaction force is a force that acts perpendicular to a surface as a result of
an object applying a force to the surface. For example when you walk, to exert force
onto the ground and there is a normal reaction force which is exerted onto your foot.
The magnitude of both forces is the same.
Driving force (Thrust): The thrust is simply the forward force applied on a body
which causes it to accelerate.

define average acceleration as:

The rate at which an object changes its velocity is called its ACCELERATION.
Acceleration is a Vector quantity.
The v refers to change in velocity. The change in velocity is equal to the ending
velocity minus the initial velocity which gives us the second equation.

define the terms mass and weight with reference to the effects of
gravity

Your mass will not change if you change locations, no matter where you go. If you
have 50kg of mass on the Earth. Your will have 50kg of mass on the Moon as well.
It is your weight that will change.
W=mg
W refers to weight
M refers to mass
G refers to the force of gravity. (gravitational field strength)
On Earth the force of gravity is approximately 9.8 N
Therefore to determine your weight on Earth, you multiply your mass by the
gravitational field strength (9.8).

outline the forces involved in causing a change in the velocity of a


vehicle when:
coasting with no pressure on the accelerator
pressing on the accelerator
pressing on the brakes
passing over an icy patch on the road
climbing and descending hills
following a curve in the road

Coasting with no pressure on the accelerator: In theory if this was the case,
you should move at a constant velocity eternally but on Earth this is not true as
there are several resistance factors that cause the car to slow down and eventually
come to rest. Air resistance and friction are the two major components. Friction
between the tyres and the road as well as the air resistance on the vehicle cause it
to eventually come to a halt. Thus the velocity is always decreasing.
If the car was to move at a constant velocity, then the thrust provided by the engine
should be equal to the resistance applied by the friction and the air resistance. This
will result in a overall net force of 0 and thus you would coast along at a constant
velocity.
Pressing on the accelerator: This will result in a force to applied by the engine.
The thrust applied by the engine will exceed the friction and air-resistance factors
and cause the vehicle to increase its velocity accordingly (accelerating). Simply,
when the accelerator is pressed a force is applied on the road by the wheels of the
car, and due to Newtons third law, we know that there will be an equal and opposite
reaction force and this is the force that causes the vehicle to accelerate.
Pressing on the brakes: When the brakes are pressed, the engine produces a force
which causes the wheels to stop turning (or turn slower). This increases the frictional
forces that are applied on the car as well as reduces the thrust that is applied by the
engine. Due to both of these factors, the cars velocity will reduce. Thus the care will
decelerate (or accelerate in a negative direction).
Passing over an icy patch on the road: Let us assume that the car is travelling at
a constant velocity (i.e. no net force). An icy patch on the road will apply less friction
onto the car than a normal bitumen-based road will. Due to this fact, as the car gets
onto the icy patch and keeps the same pressure on the accelerator, it will travel
faster (accelerate) as the frictional forces have been reduced, which means that
there is a net force in the direction the car is travelling. This causes increases in
velocity and causes the car to accelerate.
Also, due to the fact that the icy road provides minimal friction to that of the normal
road, it will be difficult for the vehicle to reduce its velocity. This is because as the
brakes are applied, the deceleration of the car relies on the frictional forces between
the wheels and the road and since there are minimal frictional forces, it will be hard
to car to slow down.

Climbing and Descending Hills:

It is important in these scenarios to split up the several forces into their components.
In the diagram to the right. The angle of inclination is always equal to the angle of
between the normal and the force of gravity. As can be seen there is a net force
applied in the downhill direction. This force can be calculated if the mass of the
object is known. The normal reaction force is always perpendicular to the surface and
this can be seen in both scenarios. Friction and air resistance play important roles in
restricting the movement of the object and the amount of force needed is dependant
on if you are travelling uphill or down hill.
In the diagram to the left, in order to accelerate the car, the driving force must be
greater than the sum of the frictional force, air resistance and the downhill force
(weight component parallel to surface) applied on the car. These three forces are
acting in an opposite direction to the direction of the car. Thus this shows why more
force is needed to travel uphill, rather than downhill.
Following a curve in the road: When a vehicle must follow a curve in the road a
different type of force is applied on it. It is called the centripetal force. The
centripetal force is the net force on an object travelling in a circular path at a
constant speed. The force is directed towards the center of the circle.
F = mv2/ r
M = mass of object
V = Velocity
R = Radius
Example: A car of mass 1200kg drives along a roundabout at a constant speed of
15m/s around a curve with a radius of 12m. Calculate the net force
Net force = (1200 x 15 x 15) / 12
4
= 2.25 x 10 N

interpret Newtons Second Law of Motion and relate it to the


equation:
F = ma

M = mass, A = acceleration.
Basically, the net force is equal to the mass multiplied by the acceleration.
Newtons Second Law of Motion: The change in velocity (acceleration) with which an
object moves is directly proportional to the magnitude of the force applied to the
object and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.
Example: What is the magnitude of the net force acting on a 1600kg car when its
-2
acceleration is 2.0 m s
Force = 1600 x 2
= 3200 N (Force is always measured in Newtons N)
Newtons Second Law: It allows to determine many things such as;
-

You are able to determine the net force, without knowing any of the
individual forces acting on the object.
Determine the mass of an object.
Predict the effect of a net force on the motion of on object of known mass.

identify the net force in a wide variety of situations involving modes of


transport and explain the consequences of the application of that net
force in terms of Newtons Second Law of Motion
In planes and cars and other vehicles, the net force is a very important
consideration. For example in an A380 plane it was calculated that the plane needed
a take off speed of 300 km/h. This was then used to determine the extent of force
the engines needed to produce in order to make the plane take off in 35 seconds.
F=mxa
= 560 000 kg x ( 83.3 / 35 )
= 1 332 800 N
This is just one of the many situations where Newtons second law is applied to
modes of transport.

4. Change of momentum relates to the forces acting on the vehicle or the


driver

define momentum as: p = mv

p is the standard symbol for momentum


m stands for mass
v stands for velocity
Momentum is a Vector quantity.

define impulse as the product of force and time

Impulse is the change in momentum. It is also known as the product of force and the
time interval over which it acts. Impulse is a vector quantity with units N s
The formula for impulse is Impulse = Force x Time

or

I = Ft

Change in momentum (impulse) can also be written as:


m v = m(v-u)
= mv mu
= pf pi
where pf = final momentum of the object
pi = initial momentum of the object
NOTE: If a graph of force vs. time is plotted, the impulse can be calculated
by determining the area under the graph.

explain why momentum is conserved in collisions in terms of


Newtons Third Law of motion

Newtons Third Law: Whenever an object applies a force (an action) to a second
object, the second object applies an equal and opposite force (called a reaction) to
the first object.
Law of conservation of Momentum:
For a collision occurring between object 1 and object 2 in an isolated system, the
total momentum of the two objects before the collision is equal to the total
momentum of the two objects after the collision. That is, the momentum lost by
object 1 is equal to the momentum gained by object 2.

10

3.

Moving vehicles have kinetic energy and energy transformations


are an important aspect in understanding motion
identify that a moving object possesses kinetic energy and that work
done on that object can increase that energy

Energy can be defines as the capacity to do work. It is a scalar quantity.?


Work is done when an object moves in the direction of a force applied to it. The
amount of work done is the product of the magnitude of the force and the
displacement of the object in the direction of the force. Work is a scalar quantity.
Some characteristics of energy:
-

All matter possesses energy


Energy can take many different forms such as light, sound, thermal, kinetic,
gravitational potential, chemical, nuclear etc.
Energy can be stored, transferred to other matter, or transformed from one
form to another. Some transformations can be heard, seen, felt, smelt or
tasted.
It is possible to measure the quantity of energy transferred or transformed.

Energy can be transferred to or from matter in several different ways.


Energy can transferred by:
-

Emission or absorption of electromagnetic or nuclear radiation


Heating / cooling of an object or substance as a result of a temperance
difference
The action of a force on an object resulting in movement.

The transfer of energy by the action of a force is called mechanical energy transfer.
W = Fs
F is the magnitude of the force.
s is the displacement in the direction of the force.
The standard SI unit of work is a joule (J)
Kinetic energy is the energy associated with the movement of an object.
m = mass
v = velocity

Any moving object possesses kinetic energy, and work done on that moving
object will increase the kinetic energy of that object.
Note: the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle cannot be created it must be
transferred from another object or transformed from another form of energy.

11

describe the energy transformations that occur in collisions

When objects collide most of their kinetic energy is transformed into other forms of
energy. These forms include:
Potential energy of deformation. This is the energy stored in an object as
a result of changing its shape. Sometimes that potential energy of deformation can
be easily transformed back into other forms when the object returns to its original
shape.
Sound energy. Sound energy is transmitted through the air as a result of
vibrating particles. When a vehicle collides with an object of another vehicle, some of
its kinetic energy is transferred to the surrounding air, causing rapid vibrations.
Thermal energy. Thermal energy is the enrgy that a substance posseses as
a result of the random movement within them. The vehicle, air, road become heated
during a collision.

define the law of conservation of energy

Energy cannot be created or destroyed but it can be transformed from one


form to another.

12

5. Safety devices are utilized to reduce the effects of changing momentum

define the inertia of a vehicle as its tendency to remain in uniform


motion or at rest

Inertia is the tendency of an object to resist a change in its motion. Inertia is not a
force; it is a property of all objects. The inertia of an objects depends only on its
mass. Inertia of a vehicle is its tendency to remain at a uniform motion. That is why
in collisions, a persons inertia can be a serious problem.
When a passenger in a fast-moving car is suddenly stopped, the passenger would
continue to move at a high seed until a non-zero force stopped you. Your inertia
would resist the change in motion.

discuss reasons why Newtons First Law of Motion is not apparent in


many real world situations

Newtons first law is not apparent in everyday situations as there are usually many
external forces acting upon objects on the Earths surface. It can be observed to
some degree, however, when a car is unable to change its velocity on an icy surface,
or when an object travels through space.

assess the reasons for the introduction of low speed zones in built-up
areas and the addition of air bags and crumple zones to vehicles with
respect to the concepts of impulse and momentum

1) Seat Belts
A seat belt is a safety harness designed to secure the occupant of a vehicle against
harmful movement that may result from a collision. As part of an overall occupant
restraint system, seat belts are intended to reduce injuries by stopping the wearer
from hitting hard interior elements of the vehicle or other passengers and by
preventing the passenger from being thrown from the vehicle.
Most seat belts are equipped with locking mechanisms (or inertia reels) that tighten
the belt when pulled fast (e.g. by the quick force of a passenger's body during a
crash) but do not tighten when pulled slowly. This is implemented with a centrifugal
clutch, which engages as the reel spins quickly. Alternatively, this function may be
secured by a weighted pendulum or ball bearing: when these are deflected by
deceleration or roll-over they lock into pawls on the reel.
Types of inertia reel type seatbelts:
NLR (No Locking Retractor): Commonly used in recoiling lap belts
ELR V (Emergency Locking Retractor - Vehicle sensitive): Single sensitive
mechanism, composed of a locking mechanism activated in an emergency by
deceleration or rollover of the vehicle. Thus, the seatbelt is sensitive to the vehicle's
motion.
ELR VW (Emergency Locking Retractor - Vehicle and Webbing sensitive): Dual
sensitive means a seatbelt retractor that, during normal driving conditions, allows
freedom of movement by the wearer of the seatbelt by means of length-adjusting

13

components that automatically adjust the strap to the wearer, with a locking
mechanism that is activated by at least one of the following:

deceleration or rollover of the vehicle,


acceleration of the strap (webbing) from the retractor

2) Crumple Zones
Crumple zones are areas of a vehicle that are designed to deform and crumple in a
collision. This absorbs some of the energy of the impact, preventing it from being
transmitted to the occupants.
Crumple zones accomplish two safety goals. They reduce the initial force of the
crash, and they redistribute the force before it reaches the vehicle's occupants.
The best way to reduce the initial force in a crash with a given amount of mass and
speed is to slow down the deceleration. An example of this is slamming on your
brakes for any reason. The forces you experience in an emergency stop are much
greater than when you gradually slow down for a stoplight. In a collision, slowing
down the deceleration by even a few tenths of a second can create a drastic
reduction in the force involved.
Since Force = Mass X Acceleration
Cutting the deceleration in half also cuts the force in half. Therefore, changing the
deceleration time from .2 seconds to .8 seconds will result in a 75 percent reduction
in total force.
Crumple zones accomplish this by creating a buffer zone around the perimeter of the
car. Certain parts of a car are inherently rigid and resistant to deforming, such as the
passenger compartment and the engine. If those rigid parts hit something, they will
decelerate very quickly, resulting in a lot of force. Surrounding those parts with
crumple zones allows the less rigid materials to take the initial impact. The car
begins decelerating as soon as the crumple zone starts crumpling, extending the
deceleration over a few extra tenths of a second.
Crumple zones also help redistribute the force of impact. All of the force has to go
somewhere. Think of the force involved in a crash as a force budget. Everything that
happens to the car during an impact and every person inside of the car at the time of
the impact spends some of the force. If the car hits a non-stationary object, like a
parked car, then some force is transferred to that object. If the car hits something
with a glancing blow and spins or rolls, much of the force is spent on the spinning
and rolling. If parts of the car fly off, even more force is spent. Most importantly,
damage to the car itself spends force. Bending parts of the frame, smashing body
panels, shattering glass -- all of these actions require energy. Think of how much
force is needed to bend the steel frame of a car. That amount of force is spent on
bending the frame, so it is never transmitted to the occupants.
Crumple zones are based on that concept. Parts of the car are built with special
structures inside them that are designed to be damaged, crumpled, crushed and
broken. The fundamental idea is that it takes force to damage them. Crumple zones

14

spend as much force as possible so that other parts of the car as well as the
occupants don't suffer the effects.
3) Airbags

The primary purpose of the airbag is to slow the passengers speed to zero with little
or no damage. The constraints that it has to work within are huge. The airbag has
the space between the passenger and the steering wheel or dashboard and a fraction
of a second to work with. Even that tiny amount of space and time is valuable,
however, if the system can slow the passenger evenly rather than forcing an abrupt
halt to his or her motion.
The goal of an airbag is to slow the passenger's forward motion as evenly as possible
in a fraction of a second. There are three parts to an airbag that help to accomplish
this feat:
-

The bag itself is made of a thin, nylon fabric, which is folded into the steering
wheel or dashboard or, more recently, the seat or door.

The sensor is the device that tells the bag to inflate. Inflation happens when
there is a collision force equal to running into a brick wall at 10 to 15 miles per
hour (16 to 24 km per hour). A mechanical switch is flipped when there is a mass
shift that closes an electrical contact, telling the sensors that a crash has
occurred. The sensors receive information from an accelerometer built into a
microchip.

The airbag's inflation system reacts sodium azide (NaN3) with potassium nitrate
(KNO3) to produce nitrogen gas. Hot blasts of the nitrogen inflate the airbag.

15

Physics behind the Airbag:


RULE: force and time are inversely proportional.
F*t = Impulse
Therfore F = Impulse / t
An object with 100 units of momentum must experience 100 units of impulse in
order to be brought to a stop. Any combination of force and time could be used to
produce the 100 units of impulse necessary to stop an object with 100 units of
momentum.
Eg:

Force = 100

Time = 1

Impulse =100

Force = 1

Time = 100

Impulse =100

As can be observed, the greater the time over which the collision occurs, the smaller
the force acting upon the object. Thus, to minimize the affect of the force on an
object involved in a collision, the time must be increased.
Air bags use this physics phenomena to their advantage. Air bags are used in
automobiles because they are able to minimize the affect of the force on an object
involved in a collision. Air bags accomplish this by extending the time required to
stop the momentum of the driver and passenger. When encountering a car collision,
the driver and passenger tend to keep moving in accord with Newton's first law.
Their motion carries them towards a windshield which results in a large force exerted
over a short time in order to stop their momentum. If instead of hitting the
windshield, the driver and passenger hit an air bag, then the time duration of the
impact is increased. When hitting an object with some give such as an air bag, the
time duration might be increased by a factor of 100. Increasing the time by a factor
of 100 will result in a decrease in force by a factor of 100.
Thus the use of the airbag decreases the overall force that is applied on the
passenger resulting in less serious injuries and thus saves lives.

4) Introduction of low speed zones


Low speed zones keep the risk of major damage to a minimum by decreasing the
momentum of cars.
Momentum increases with both velocity and mass, as shown in the equation
It is important to keep momentum low because in

F=

P
, as the momentum (P)
T

increases, so does the force (F).


Lower speed zones also allow for a shorter stopping distance.

16

p = mv .

s=

mu 2
2F

In this equation where s is the stopping distance, m is the mass of the vehicle, u is
the initial speed and F is the force of friction, m and F are constants. Therefore, if the
initial speed is doubled, the stopping distance is increased fourfold. If the initial
speed is halved, the stopping distance is decreased fourfold, and it can be said that
the stopping distance is equal to the initial speed squared.
Reducing speed decreases the chance for a collision to take place, by decreasing the
stopping distance and by lowering momentum.

evaluate the effectiveness of some safety features of motor vehicles

The kinetic energy possessed by the cars is converted primarily into heat energy,
sound and energy of deformation of the cars body.
Lets create a situation in which there are two cars A and B that are identical mirrors
of each other. When car A collides with car B, we have different force considerations.
Assuming that car A and car B are complete mirrors of each other they would collide
with each other going at precisely the same speed (but opposite directions). From
conservation of momentum, we know that they must both come to rest. The mass is
the same. Therefore, the force experienced by car A and car B are identical and are
identical to that acting on the car in case A.
Force is a vector quantity while kinetic energy is a scalar quantity, calculated with
the formula K = 0.5mv2.
Each car has kinetic energy K directly before the collision. At the end of the collision,
both cars are at rest, and the total kinetic energy of the system is 0. Since these are
inelastic collisions, the kinetic energy is not conserved, but total energy is always
conserved, so the kinetic energy "lost" in the collision has to convert into some other
form - heat, sound, etc. In this case there are two cars moving, so the total energy
released during the collision is 2K.
In summary the kinetic energy possessed by the car is converted primarily into heat
energy, sound and energy of deformation of the cars body.
1)

Seat Belts

In Australia, in 2007, 44 drivers and passengers killed were unrestrained.


Failure to wear a seat belt contributes to more fatalities than any other single traffic
safety-related behavior. 63% of people killed in accidents are not wearing seat belts.
Wearing a seat belt use is still the single most effective thing we can do to protect
ourselves in case of an accident.
Seat belts are the most effective safety devices in vehicles today, estimated to save
9,500 lives each year. Yet only 68 percent of the motor vehicle occupants are
buckled. In 1996, more than 60 percent of the occupants killed in fatal crashes were
unrestrained.

17

If 90 percent of driver and passengers buckle up, we will prevent more than 5,500
deaths and 132,000 injuries annually.

2)

Airbags

Government safety statistics show a continuing drop in airbag-related deaths and


injuries as technology and seat beat use improves.
Two children died in last year as a result of injuries caused by airbags. No adults
were killed according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
That is an improvement over previous years.
While the reduced number of deaths and injuries can be attributed to better airbag
technology, more people are wearing seat belts and more children and infants are
being placed in the back seat.
1997 was the worst year for airbag-related deaths and injuries when 53 people died
including 31 children. Airbags have killed 264 people since NHTSA became keeping a
record of the deaths and injuries.
On the other hand, NHTSA estimates that airbags have saved almost 20,000 lives.
There is, however, a continuing problem with airbags failing to deploy in accidents.
There are no reliable statistics on how many deaths and injuries have been caused
by such incidents.
Advanced frontal airbag technologies vary but most airbags are designed to deploy
with varying strength depending on the size and location of vehicle occupants and

18

whether those occupants are wearing seat belts. Sensors built into the passenger
compartment determine the power of deployment.
NHTSA statistics show that newer cars and trucks have the best airbag records. No
deaths were reported from the 2002 and 2003 model years. One death was reported
from the 2004 model year.
Critics argue that even the newest airbags still are capable of inflicting injuries and
ought to be a matter of choice and not government mandate.
Overall in summary, there is still some controversy on the ability of airbags to help
save lives in accidents. Statistics show that the use of airbags has prevented many
deaths on our roads but there are others that show the deaths that are caused by
the airbags. With present technology as it is, airbags seem to be doing their job for
the most part and as technology improves and methods of releasing airbags faster
are developed, the statistics will only improve.

19