Cushioning the Blow

The concept of airbags has been around since the 1940s, but early slow-to-deploy models didn’t gain much buy-in from automakers. In the 1970s, awareness of automobile safety measures like seat belts picked up, and the airbag finally had its moment. By 1998, driver- and passenger-side front-seat airbags were required for all cars and light trucks sold in the US—where frontal airbags saved 25,782 lives between 1987 and 2008, helping secure their spot on our 100 Objects That Shaped Public Health.

Check GHN every Wednesday for an up-close look at one object on the list, published by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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