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Colombian develops airbag vests for motorcyclists
Sunday June 30, 2013 11:37 AM, EFE

Seven years ago, engineer German Acevedo left his job as head of R&D for the Colombian navy to develop an innovative product aimed at saving thousands of lives: an airbag vest for motorcyclists

His company, Tech4Riders, which already exports the vests to Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Chile and Venezuela, now is ready to market the third generation of the safety equipment, Colombia.inn reported.

"Nothing can guarantee you that you won't die in an accident," Acevedo said in an interview with Colombia.inn. "What kills you is the energy of the accident."

The Tech4Riders vests reduce that energy and, with it, the severity of the injuries suffered.

The vests feature a combination of two mechanical systems: "one active, the airbag, and another passive, made up of smart foam" that enable "absorption indices of greater than 90 percent of the energy of the impact", Acevedo said.

"The complete system protects against blows to the neck area, the ribcage and the spinal column, which are the (zones) that generate the greatest disability," he added.

A total of 2,253 motorcyclists were killed in accidents in Colombia in 2011, accounting for 39 percent of all traffic fatalities, while 18,095 others were injured.

The Tech4Riders vests are equipped with an innovative mechanism that activates the airbag, a belt that connects the vest to the vehicle and can detect a fall or the expulsion of the motorcycle's driver or passenger due to a collision.

In such an emergency, an injection of compressed carbonic gas inflates the inside of the vest in approximately one-tenth of a second.

The vest, which ranges in price from 300,000 pesos-800,000 pesos ($170-$430), can be complemented with extra shoulder, back, elbow and knee protection made out of a viscoelastic material initially developed by NASA for its astronauts.

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