In a world first, Hyundai has developed an airbag system is designed to protect occupants in multi-collision crashes.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as trees, electrical posts or other vehicles.

Figures show this occurs in three out of every 10 accidents.

Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection if the initial impact is insufficient to trigger their deployment.

But the multi-collision system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact by calibrating the status of the vehicle and its occupants.

The new technology detects the position of occupants in the cabin following an initial impact.

When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised.

By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, improving the safety of occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” head of Chassis Technology Centre, Taesoo Chi, said.

“We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says about 30 percent of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions.

The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8 percent), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5 percent), highway median strip collisions (8.0 percent), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0 percent).

Hyundai analysed multi-collision scenarios in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions.

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Riley

Chris Riley has been a journalist for almost 40 years. He has spent half of his career as a writer, editor and production editor in newspapers, the rest of the time driving and writing about cars both in print and online. His love affair with cars began as a teenager with the purchase of an old VW Beetle, followed by another Beetle and a string of other cars on which he has wasted too much time and money. A self-confessed geek, he’s not afraid to ask the hard questions - at the risk of sounding silly.