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Air Bag disconnect

Our daughter is very petite (4’10"), but she drives a giant tank around because we like to surround her with lots of metal on the road. The result of being so small even though she is 20 years old is that she is only a couple of inches away from her steering wheel. Her 1995 Caprice Classic has a bench seat, which she moves up probably as far as possible so she can reach the pedals comfortably.

After a minor fender bender (not her fault!), some of her friends pointed out that although she was not injured, she probably would have been if the airbag had deployed. Now she is convinced that we need to have the airbag disconnected.

I have heard that you are supposed to be sitting with your chest about 10-12" away from the steering wheel. There is no way she is that far away. Which is the lesser of 2 evils?

’Vehicles and equipment’ in top line menu.
AirBags in left menu.
Air bag on/off switch FAQ in right side bar menu.

To legaly have a disconnect switch installed there is a form to fill out.

Thank you for this useful site reference. I will search it to see if there is a general consensus regarding smaller females. Ironically, she is just barely above the Indiana regulations for child safety seats! (4’9" and 100 lbs, I believe).

If we do make that decision, I will be sure to use the proper form. Thank you for your help.

Perhaps you could look into having pedal extenders put on the vehicle. I know some newer cars have them so it should be a fairly easy install.
Ask around the churches or retirement centers where they have their vehicles modified at(usually to be made wheelchair accessible), and ask for the number. Those places specialize in making vehicles able to accommodate a wide variety of people that the manufacturers don’t think of.

That is a great idea for places to seek places that make modifications. In fact, when she was 13, she took flying lessons but couldn’t reach the pedals on the Cessna 172. That was fine, though, because she was limited to the Cessna 150 that she could adjust and was cheaper to rent!

When we find out about the car modifications, we can also look in to the possibility of airplane modifications and that might make the whole thing more palatable to her and less embarrassing.

Since your daughter won’t have the protection of airbags she may need a 4 point seatbelt harness. It will offer more protection than regular seatbelts. They can be found on the internet and are not expensive. Look for the ones with a quick release feature.

Grandma had the same problem with her 1995 Olds something or other. We did a Google search of ‘pedal extenders little people’ and hit several sites that offer a variety of products. They range from simple blocks that you can clamp on to the existing pedals to classy-looking, floor-mounted devices that replicate the existing pedals, only closer to the gram’s feet and use connecting rods. Not sure that big means safe. A background in engineering and casual studies of Newtonian Laws of Motion revealed that greater mass is harder to start, stop and change direction. Accident avoidance is preferable to accident survival. Perhaps a sprightlier car would be wiser.

I’d go with pedal extenders or even wooden blocks before disconnecting the bags.
Back in the 70s an old girlfriend of mine was also vertically challenged at 4’10" and her car was a 1948 Plymouth with a manual transmission.
Her father had installed wooden blocks on that car and it worked just fine for her; although not necessarily for me.