How Center-mounted Airbags Work

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Author's Note: How Center-mounted Airbags Work

Sometimes, if you're lucky, you get to prove what an ignoramus you are -- even in your chosen field of expertise. This was one of those times.

I assumed that a center-mounted airbag would be in the center of the dashboard. Like, where the LCD screen is. When I emailed the kind folks at GM about an interview for this article, I tried to sound all smart, and as if I'd done tons of prep work. In truth, I'd only heard of center-mounted airbags about twenty minutes before. So I was all, "What might the drawbacks of such an airbag be? Does it displace the LCD screen or cause a major redesign of the air vents?"

The GM guy was all, "Um, no. It doesn't come out of the dashboard. It's mounted in the seat."

Which, once I'd actually looked at the press release I held in my hand and the pictures that came with it, was painfully obvious. The upshot was that when I finally did get an interview with the guy who kind of invented this thing, I didn't pretend to know any more than I did, and I made sure to review all the materials I had before talking to him. Lesson learned.

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  • Basel, Sharon. Manager of Environment and Energy Communications for General Motors. Telephone interview conducted on Jan. 10, 2013.
  • General Motors press release. "GM Introduces Two Industry-First Safety Features." Sept. 30, 2011. (Jan. 16, 2013)
  • Thomas, Scott. Senior Staff Engineer for General Motors. Telephone interview conducted on Jan. 10, 2013.

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