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Rear-end collision

With regard to the seat belt, does having a seat belt on protect the driver in the event that a car runs into the driver’s car rear end? With regard to the air bag, in the event that a car runs into the driver’s car’s rear end will the air bag protect the driver? Thank you. abfunex

Wearing your seatbelt will protect you if you get rear ended by preventing you from bouncing off the seat back and into the steering wheel or dashboard. The air bag will not deploy if you get rear ended because it is designed to only deploy if the potential benefits of preventing injury outweigh the potential risks of inflicting injury. Air bags often cause burns, temporary respiratory irritation, and temporary hearing loss because they use a small explosion of something like jet fuel to inflate. It usually takes a forward-moving collision with a stationary object at around 30mph to deploy the air bag.

One often overlooked safety feature of modern cars that will save your neck, literally, in a rear end collision is the head rest. Make sure it is raised up to the point where the back of your head will contact it squarely if you get rear ended to prevent whiplash. Also, don’t recline your seat at a ridiculous angle, as seems to be the trend among many teenagers and young adults today, and you will be safe.

Whether or not the airbag inflates, the seat belt is in and of itself a great safety device. Race drivers walk away from unbelievable crashes not only because of the design of the car, but also because they’re held solidly in their seats by their harnesses. Their helmets are even clipped (via straps) to their protective cages now to prevent broken necks by restricting the ability of their heads to move in a crash.

You don’t have a harness or helmet, but you do have safety belts and headrests. Using them could easily save your life. The forces on your body in any significant collision from any angle are far greater than your body has the ability to counteract. Use your seatbelts. And, as Mark said, your headrests. Think of your airbag as being a backup additional system rather than the primary one.

Oh, and your airbags are designed to work IN HARMONY with your seatbelts. They ARE NOT designed to be used alone. Fly into a different position instantaneously, like sliding down the seat, and the airbags themselves could cause severe injuries. These things happen in nanoseconds.

When hit from behind the seat belt will be your only defense against the ‘‘ricochet’’ effect, or ‘bounce off’ as the force of the impact ultimately throws you forward.

Just WEAR YOUR SEAT BELT all the time , every time, everywhere and we won’t be discussing the ‘should haves’ and ‘could haves’ after your hospitalization or worse.

Despite any peer pressure, my son, even as a passenger, was often the only person in a car wearing his belt. It was his reverse psychology that had others snapping up thier belt later in the ride. He’d just put it on and not nitpick the others. If asked he’d simply and very matter-of-factly say “my dad showed me all the reasons why, so I just do.” They usually wouldn’t press for more detail and hook up their belts too.

I applaud your son and especially applaud you for teaching him that. I’m also teaching my son to always buckle up, and, at age 5, typically has his belt on before I can turn to check on it.

I have only seen one incidence of when not having your belt on was better,train and car collision (it was a 6cyl Triumph, had to be a Triumph it was green) and the woman was thrown clear. Other than that you always come out better with the belt on.

To mark9207: Thank you for your response. I pulled out the headrest on the back of the driver’s seat for a very good reason. It obstructed my view when I backed up the car (pulling out of a parking spot, etc.). Does anyone else have that problem when backing up the car? Thank you. abx

Being “thrown clear” from your car in the event of a train collision might be one of the very few situations where being thrown from a vehicle is preferable to being belted in.

When seatbelt use became mandatory in my state, I heard several people state that they would prefer to be “thrown clear” in the event of an accident. My reply was that their world apparently consists of cushiony-soft deserted roadways, surrounded by foam cushions, down comforters, Boston Cream Pies, and soft snowbanks.

Since real world roadways consist of hard pavement that is also being traversed by other vehicles, the probability of having your body severely injured by impacting the roadway, sliding along the pavement, and then possibly being run over by another vehicle would certainly seem to argue against “being thrown clear”. But, I guess that if one’s world includes cushiony-soft deserted roadways surrounded by foam cushions, down comforters, Boston Cream Pies, and soft snowbanks, then perhaps being thrown clear would be preferable to being belted in.

Many years ago, I heard someone state that she was afraid that she would be unable to open her seat belt if her arms were broken as a result of a car accident, and that this could lead to being trapped in a burning car. I then pointed out that those same broken arms would also prevent her from being able to operate the car’s door handle, thus making her argument rather pointless.

The next time that I rode in her car, I noticed that the seatbelts were missing. She informed me that she had used a steak knife to cut them out of her car because she didn’t want to be trapped…yada, yada, yada. You just can’t cure stupid, as the old saying goes.