An airbag fully deploys at a speed of about 60 to 186 miles an hour upon impact. Comparatively, this is the top speed of Japan's Shinkansen Bullet Train. The bag is completely operational in about 0.03 seconds.
After it deploys, an airbag quickly deflates. The entire process is completed within 0.10 seconds. This is about the speed of an eye blink. Air bags do not engage during very low-speed contact. The car must be moving at least 12 to 18 miles per hour. A driver's side airbag pops out of the steering wheel, while the one on the passenger side is hidden inside the dashboard.