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The airbag starts to inflate, exerting pressure on the cover of the airbag module, forcing it to open.
The warnings that such sensors could provide might boost safety by making it possible to inflate air bags sooner in a severe crash.
As the air bag inflates, pressure is exerted against the air bag cover.
The hub of the wheel, which is specially split along "split lines" hidden by the surface trim opens to release the 30-liter air bag which begins to inflate very rapidly.
Auto makers want to slow the speed at which air bags inflate, consumer groups are urging two-speed air bags that deploy more slowly in fender-benders, and the safety agency has been weighing those and other public proposals for changes.