Airbag safety: the straight scoop

This is such a hard one, because most of the data on the web comes from either the fed. gov’t or private co’s that de-activate airbags, each with a seperate agenda.

The best I could find is that airbags have deployed 800,000 times, saving 1500-ish that would have otherwise died, but killing 60-ish that would have otherwise lived. Overall fatality rates have dropped 20% or so.

But, even if accurate, this isn’t terribly relevant to me because I’ve been so trained to ALWAYS wear a seatbelt that I feel naked driving without one. Thus, I’d like to know what the improvement in outcome for drivers WEARING SEATBELTS AT IMPACT is. This way, I could make an informed cost/benefit decision should they ever need replacement.

I don't have the numbers handy, but you are ahead even with seatbelts.  Those injuries, as I recall are most likely for those without seat belts because they are out of position or are kids in improper car seats (or improperly used) or fall into the small class of people who due to one reason or another size, physical condition etc. should not be using air bags. Finally air bags have improved and the current crop are less likely to cause problems and should result in even better statistical results.

The research you are looking for was done YEARS ago, and it’s the reason seatbelts have been required in cars for about 40 years. Seatbelts WORK. I’m like you; can’t drive a car without first buckling the seatbelt. I would replace the seatbelts if they became sufficiently worn, but would not necessarily replace the airbag(s). I don’t care about airbags. They are there in the car, but I don’t rely on them to keep me “safe.” For safety there are seatbelts, and I use them religiously.

Driving with airbags should be at the customer’s option. I would find that risk to be acceptable. I think that pollution and gas mileage should be our main concern. If we survive 15 years driving the tin cans of yesteryear at 36 MPG local driving, we would save enough on gasoline to be able to afford airbags during our senior years when soft tissue injuries are harder to recover from. With change left over. We don’t need malfunctioning, expensive electronic junk on our cars. I’d be willing to live without stability control, traction control and antiloc brakes. They add excessive weight and really mess you up when they don’t work right.

Here’s some information from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS):

The quick take is that kids in car seats should always be in back and that adults should sit at least 10-inches from the stowed air bag. There are several items for you to read.

It’s not a choice of either seat belts or air bags. It’s both! Both supplement each other. Together, they save many lives and decrease severity of injuries. Why should it be of paramount importance to choose one over the other? Sometimes, it’s the seat belt, alone, which saves someone from death or injury. Other times, it’s airbags. And other times, both.
Anything built by man is, and will be, imperfect. Seat belts and airbags are no exception. One, or the other, can fail; but, the times which they don’t fail is far greater.
Visualize the packaging of people in vehicles to the packaging of eggs. Various containers with (and without} various kinds of cushioning (restraint), will result in more, or less, or no damage to the people (or, eggs). Even the material of the container is of importance. Before restraints (e.g. seat belts), if someone were involved in a crash, their faces would impact the metal dashboard. The impact would severely damage their faces and, sometimes, would knock out all of their front teeth!
With today’s restraints, and plastic, padded, dashes, faces are no longer summarily remodeled by a sudden impact with a metal dash.
I vote “yes”! to all of the safety measures in today’s vehicles, and await further developments in vehicle safety in tomorrow’s vehicles.

I’m with you. If only the airbag is used, the front seat occupants could slide under the air bag and break their legs.

Seatbelts keep you in place and inside the vehicle. They help to keep you from hitting the dashboard, but they don’t offer you much in the way of cushioning. That thin strap can cut into you.

The airbag provides a lot of cushioning for the first impact, which is usually the worse one. It doesn’t protect you from secondary impacts or from being thrown from teh vehicle.

They each have a distinct and necessary contribution to keeping you alive. You need both if you get into an accident. May you never need either. Drive carefully.

I have a simple solution; I always wear my seat-belt and do not buy cars with airbags. Problem solved.

I like old cars too, and have several that are truly antique. I certainly won’t forego buying newer cars due to their airbags. Sooner or later we’ll run out of good antiques to use as daily drivers. Then what?

My wife was in a serious accident several years ago in the first car we ever had that was so equipped. It was a '90 Mustang Convertible, hit left headlight to left headlight by a car that suddenly crossed the center line at about 45 miles an hour. There was not a straight piece of sheetmetal on that car except the trunk lid. The driver’s (only IIRC) airbag made a little cross hatch mark on her nose. That was all. She also had her seatbelt fastened, and THAT was what injured her left shoulder.

I have no plans to “run out” of good pre-airbag cars in my lifetime. With any luck, my current daily driver will outlive me and I can always buy another one and make it perfect (just a matter of time and money). I don’t plan on ever being stuck with a newer car.

If you were an egg, in a metal container, when (not, if) an impact occurred to that metal container, wouldn’t you prefer to be thrown against something cushiony rather than against those metal walls (or even, against those small contact area seat belts)? I prefer a pillow to a bony elbow.

Added for clarity: You, as used here, is plural (global), not singular.
I is also used globally. It could be replaced with “one”. E.g. One would not want a bony elbow in one’s face, if one (anyone) could have a pillow, instead.

Then you should be given the option of buying a car with air-bags (as many as you are willing to pay for). Personally, I’ll pass.

You two are never going to convince each other.

Hellokit’s description reminds me of a BMW TV commercial I saw in France back in 1993 or 94 when I lived there for a while. The commercial starts with a crying baby, very annoying sort of cry, and the picture flashes back and forth between the crying baby and a woman’s bare breast. Then, a quick picture of the baby going face first into the breast and the screen blacks out and the crying stops, then some text comes on screen saying (approximately), “Remember the sensation of your first airbag?”

I just about fell out of my chair laughing the first time I saw that commercial. I think at that time airbags were actually an option in Europe, so BMW was promoting them.

“You two are never going to convince each other.”

That’s OK, it’s just an academic argument for me; I don’t buy new cars anyway (for lots of reasons). I just find it annoying that this stuff is forced on customers. I do think they should be available as an option, at a cost that actually represents their installed cost. Costumers could then decide the cost/benefit for themselves (choice is always good). I can legally buy a new motorcycle with no protection, but I can’t chose to buy a new passenger car without airbags; does that make sense to anyone?

I wish for people to have the best, most effective, safest people packaging that science and technology can provide, in their vehicles.

I saw a Chrysler film around 5 years ago showing a crash dummy in a Chrysler product. There was a charge in the seat belt mechanism that would automatically tighten the belt and push you back into the seat at the moment of impact but before the impact could overcome the inertia of your body and throw you forward. Let me tell you- even with this charge those seat belt straps stretch considerably. With

the high-speed film slowed down the seat belts seemed to behave more like elastic straps than the tough nylon(?) belts that we think of them as. You could see that without an airbag a person’s torso could easily slip under the shoulder strap in a hard collision. I guess that’s why seat belts and air bags are designed to work together. Good thing. Statistically, anyway, our highways are like killing fields,I believe. No man’s an island…

Seat belts used in everyday vehicles are a compromise. A more effective, stronger, wider, both shoulders seat belt is used in race cars. The belts attach to the seat (or, floor) between the person’s thighs. This prevents the person from sliding under the belts. I suppose they aren’t installed in everyday vehicles because people object too much about them, it was felt (researched?).

Well, then you don’t want airbags. Have you ever seen an airbag in a racer? You want a state of the art carbon fiber “tub” with real five point harness. You also want an onboard fire suppression system and a fuel cell instead of a tank. Of course, your car will end up costing more than your house.

What we have is a political compromise solution that was made mandatory when it was determined that not enough folks were wearing seat belts. Of course, the irony is that they do not work properly with out seat belts, but why let logic interfere with politics.

Relax. Take a big breath and listen: You two are never going to convince each other. We’ve got a lot of things to discuss about standard features. How about a cigarette lighter, arm rest, coin holder, door pockets, seat back pockets, cup holders, or iDrive?

Some manufacturers had been working on the airbag system for racing cars, and the current solution is “HANS devices”

As for politics, no ideas what the story is back there. I thought insurance companies played a key role.