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Every automaker is trying to make the next safest car, but Honda may have one-upped everyone with its new airbag design. According to Wired, the Japanese automaker’s new airbag will help protect your body far better than your current airbags will. 

The problem

If you’ve seen footage of a crash test, then you may assume your face will hit the center of an airbag in the event of a car accident. However, Honda and the U.S. governments know this is not true.

As Wired explains, research found that about 56% of all crashes involve some sort of angled impact. These crashes involve basically any crash where your car isn’t hitting something headfirst. An airbag can still do its jobs in these cases, but an angled impact can also cause your head to slide off the airbag after it activates. 

This can actually cause brain damage as the airbag doesn’t stop your head completely. The motion of your head sliding off the airbag can also be so fast that it can do damage to your brain. These cases and situations are exactly what Honda’s new airbags are designed to prevent.

A catcher’s mitt 

Unlike a regular airbag, which inflates as fast as it can in a crash, Honda’s new airbags have two stages. The first stage of Honda’s new airbags involves an airbag designed like a catcher’s mitt. Its job is simply to catch your head and prevent it from sliding away from the airbag. 

The other stage is similar to a regular airbag. It’s designed to stop your head completely after the catcher’s mitt does its job. Combined, these two steps will provide your head with the best protection an airbag can offer.

Wired explained how safe this new airbag was in a crash test. When Honda’s engineers simulated a 40 mile-per-hour crash, the new airbag did its job perfectly. According to engineers, this new airbag should reduce brain damage from these angled-impact cases by about 75%. 

Of course, those are Honda’s claims. When those new airbags are actually in cars, then independent organizations can do studies to see their effectiveness. Given Honda’s reputation for safety, however, it seems entirely plausible that these new airbags will save more lives. 

Honda will premiere them next year, and the Japanese automaker will have exclusive access to them for six months. After that, other companies will be allowed to use them, too. 

Honda’s reputation

Safety is one of the big priorities for Honda, and it shows in its commitment to creating new ways to stay safe. Indeed, Honda advocates for a zero-collision society. Many of Honda’s cars win awards for safety. Honda frequently updates its cars with safety features.

According to Autoblog, Honda focuses on safety because they know consumers prioritize it. That’s why Honda makes sure its cars receive great ratings from the two big car-testing agencies, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, all 2019 models of Honda’s cars received a 5-star safety rating from NHTSA.

Honda’s work on safety features mostly stems from its research and development center in Ohio — the same place that developed its new airbags. After this new airbag debuts, Honda will continue working on improving car safety from this facility.