Airbags in cars have been proven to decrease traffic deaths for passengers and drivers in recent years, and now similar safeguards could be extended to the outside of vehicles, softening the blow for pedestrians and cyclists hit by cars.
Swedish manufacturers have developed an airbag to inflate under the car's bonnet, reducing the impact on any riders who land on it.
Another, at the base of the windscreen, stops a cyclist's head going through the glass.
The bags are triggered when sensors detect that a person is heading towards the car after being hit.
"In Europe each year more than 10,000 pedestrians and other vulnerable road users are killed in a collision with a vehicle," Times Online quoted ats Odman, a spokesman for Autoliv, the Swedish manufacturer that has designed the airbags, as saying.
"Most of them hit their head on the hood or the windshield," Odman added.
The new airbag is an advance on existing safety features such as "pop-up" bonnets, which prevent injuries by rising up slightly when they are hit, keeping the victim's head away from the engine.