Side air bags (SABs) are inflatable devices that are designed to help protect your head and/or chest in the event of a serious crash involving the side of your vehicle. There are three main types of SABs: chest (or torso) SABs, head SABs and head/chest combination (or “combo”) SABs.
Chest (or torso) SABs are mounted in the side of the seat or in the door and are designed to help protect an adult’s chest in a serious side-impact crash.
Head SABs are usually mounted in the roof rail above the side windows and are designed to help protect an adult’s head in a side-impact crash. There are two types of head SABs: curtain SABs and tubular SABs. Typically, curtain SABs help protect both front and rear occupants in a side-impact crash; some may also provide protection from ejection if your car rolls over after being struck on the side.
Head/chest combination (“combo”) SABs are usually mounted in the side of the seat and are typically larger than chest (or torso) SABs. Combo SABs are designed to help protect both the head and chest of an adult.
How they work: SABs inflate in a fraction of a second and are designed to help keep your head and/or chest from being hit by hard objects both inside and outside your vehicle in serious side-impact crashes. Sensors determine whether a crash is severe enough to inflate the SABs. Unlike frontal air bags, some of the side curtain air bags may stay inflated for several seconds during a crash for additional protection in the event of a rollover.
Vehicle can be equipped with both front and side air bags. Frontal air bags have been standard equipment in all passenger cars since model year 1998 and all SUV’s, pickups and vans since model year 1999. SABs are being offered as standard or optional equipment on many new passenger vehicles.