An airbag is a vehicle safety device and can "deploy" from the front in either the driver side or passenger side or side airbags, designed to protect the vehicle occupant in the event of a side impact crash. Airbags inflate rapidly during an automobile collision and are designed to prevent occupants from striking interior objects such as the steering wheel or a window. Modern vehicles may contain multiple airbags in various side and frontal locations of the passenger seating positions, and sensors may deploy one or more airbags in an impact zone at variable rates based on the type and severity of impact; the airbag is designed to only inflate in mild to severe frontal crashes.
Airbags were controversial when first introduced in the early 1970s, and many vehicle manufacturers resisted including them as standard equipment. AF ran an editorial in 1970 by then-editor Ron Offen on the issue titled "Airbag Issue Threatens to Explode."
Sometimes called Supplemental Restraint System, airbags can number as many as 10 in a vehicle. The Lexus 2010 HS 250h, for instance, has 10 airbags.