German components manufacturer ZF recently announced that it has developed an external air bag that could reduce car accident injuries in Georgia and elsewhere by as much as 40 percent. The announcement could compel automakers to implement the technology on new car and truck models in the near future.

ZF’s external air bag is designed to deploy during impacts to the side of a vehicle, acting as an extra crumple zone. Like an interior air bag, it is supposed to inflate like a pillow and cushion a vehicle’s occupants from the force of a crash. However, this can be tricky because a vehicle’s sensors need to accurately predict when a crash is imminent and inflate the air bag a split second before impact. If the timing is off, the air bag could inflate unnecessarily or fail to inflate when needed.

ZF engineers believe they can get the timing right by using ultrasonics, camera technology, lidar and radar, technologies which have all made incredible advances in recent years. When tested, the company’s external air bag, which is around 80 inches long, 20 inches high and 15 inches wide, inflated in just 15 milliseconds. That compares to the time it takes to inflate much smaller steering wheel air bags. However, more research must be done before it is ready for public use.

While external air bag technology seems promising, it may be years before it hits the market. In the meantime, individuals injured in side-impact car accidents may choose to file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver who caused the crash. This type of lawsuit is designed to help injured victims recover damages related to an accident, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and property loss. Victims may learn more about their legal rights by speaking to an attorney.