SRS stands for supplemental restraint system, the term automakers and safety officials adopted during the 1980s when the industry began installing front airbags in large numbers of vehicles.
Airbags are designed to supplement seat belts, considered the primary restraint system because they work at all speeds (airbags may not deploy in low-speed collisions), and they prevent occupants from being bounced around inside the vehicle or ejected. An airbag inflates and begins deflating in less than a second, so if after an initial collision a vehicle hits other vehicles or rolls over, a seat belt will continue to provide protection.
That was one reason federal safety officials pushed states to adopt mandatory seat belt laws. Although airbags proved effective in reducing injuries and deaths, safety research showed they were more effective when occupants also were buckled up.
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