What it is: Located in the side bolsters of the driver's and front passenger's seats, side airbags deploy during a certain side impacts to help provide protection for the thorax.
How it works: As with frontal airbags, side-impact airbags deploy when side-impact sensors trigger an electrical circuit to ignite a gas generator. In just milliseconds the side airbags inflate forward from the outside of the seats.
How it benefits the passengers: Side airbags help reduce driver and front-passenger thorax injuries in a side impact. The reason is because the sides of a vehicle offer a much smaller deformable area than the "crumple zones" (see below) in the front and rear of a vehicle.