No sternum. Which is more dangerous - front airbag or seatbelt?

I am a 64-year old female who’s had her sternum surgically removed. I drive a 2007 Subaru Tribeca which has fantastic safety features like a 6-point airbag system. I’ve been told I would not survive a front airbag deployment, but now I’m wondering which is worse - the airbag or the seatbelt strapped across my heart? Also, it’s against the law (in Wisconsin anyway) to disable an airbag so my dealer can’t help me. Anyone out there with answers or opinions?

This is a question for your doctor. We can advise you on the repair and operation of a car, but as far as I know, none of us are MD’s and so are not qualified to give medical advice like that.

If your doctor determines that you’d be better off without the airbag, you can have an airbag on/off switch installed. Wisconsin law does allow this:

347.475 (3) No person may, either personally or through an agent, remove, disconnect, tamper with, or otherwise circumvent the operation of any airbag, except for the purpose of testing, repairing, or maintaining an airbag, salvaging an undeployed airbag, disposing of a deployed airbag, or replacing a deployed airbag with a functional airbag. This subsection does not apply to the installation or use of an on-off switch by any person who is authorized by federal law or regulation to install or use an on-off switch for an airbag.

I agree that this is a question for your doctor. Perhaps some company makes a plastic shield that conforms roughly to your front to distribute the forces. It’s worth asking.

You are in over my head, If it were me in your condition, I would get a double shoulder harness like the racecar driver have, not sure about the airbags, is there bone growing back where the sternim was? I cannot imagine ribs floating free.

Good idea on the race harness but I agree, you need to discuss this with your doctor. For many many years, many of us though made it through without the use of either seat belts or air bags and without padded dashes, collapsable steering columns, and all the other adder safety devices. Air bags are designed, wrongly in my view, to protect someone not wearing a belt, and deploy at incredible force. It wouldn’t bother me at all to disable the air bags.

You really need to consult with your doctor…that’s the best advice that I’ve seen here.

Was your sternum split? I hope it will heal back together,please be extremley careful someone in your condition has your strength compromised and common sense dictates that a device to spread the stress would certainly help,encourage your physician or specialist to really give your situation a lot of thought,airbags scare the heck out of me,best of luck-Kevin(I’m like barky dog the thought of your ribs just floating scares the heck out of me)

In EVERY case you would never depend only on the air bag…and not use a belt.
– Never –
( you will under ride the bag and end up under the steering wheel and under the dash )
So, that being known, see what your doctor thinks about that great idea about the four or five point harness. To me that seems very practical. ( the one shown above is a 5 point harness )

Thank you all SO much for your comments. I always do use my seatbelt and the 5-pt harness looks pretty cool. I will definitely consult my doctor and shop for a chest protector I can wear when I’m driving.

@Bing, air bags are designed to work in conjunction with seat belts, not to protect someone who is not wearing a seat belt. I don’t know where you got that information, but I think you should question the source.

The airbags that deployed “at incredible force” regardless of the rate of impact were first generation airbags. I think we’re on the third or fourth generation of airbags by now, which deploy at a rate commensurate with the intensity of the impact.

This appears to be one of those myths, like the one about mixing synthetic oil and conventional oil, that was based on a grain of truth, but just refuses to go away.

Well that’s good news if. I’m out of date. When a young kid gets killed by a passenger airbag deployment, it tends to stick with you, even after being redesigned.

Young children get killed by airbags when their parents don’t follow guidelines for using child seats and either keeping children in the back or temporarily disengaging the passenger airbag. Here are the general guidelines that can be followed to prevent such deaths:

-From birth to age 2 (or when the child outgrows the seat, whichever comes first), children should be in a rear facing car seat in a back seat for the best protection. If the vehicle does not have a back seat, the child should be in the front passenger seat with the airbag disabled. You’ll notice that vehicles that only have to seats have the ability two disengage the passenger airbag.

-From ages 2 to at least age 5 (or when the child outgrows the seat, whichever comes first), children should be in a forward facing car seat in the back seat.

-From ages 5 until seat belts fit properly, children should use a booster seat that makes the seat belt fit properly. Seat belts fit properly when the lap belt lays across the upper thighs, not the stomach, and the shoulder belt lays across the chest, not the neck.

-At all stages, the best possible protection is provided by keeping children properly buckled in the back seat. Buckle all children ages 12 and under in the back seat. Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat. Never place a rear-facing car seat in front of an airbag.

-Buckle children in the middle of the back seat when possible, because it is the safest spot in the vehicle.

Any time “a young kid gets killed by a passenger airbag deployment,” it’s because the parents are negligent by not following these simple guidelines. It’s not airbags that kill these children. It’s negligent parents.

I think that is what prompted the dual/multi-stage airbag development