Do Airbags Provide Safety or Cause Harm?

Are the airbags in your vehicle going to give you necessary safety, or will they become the item that causes injuries during a crash?

When it comes to your safety on the road, it’s been proven that having airbags is much more beneficial than not having them, but there are some other aspects to riding along in a vehicle that you should know. Let’s discuss the safety and risks involved in these items, along with what you should and shouldn’t be doing while in a vehicle.

A Proven Record of Safety

Even though there are risks involved in the deployment of airbags, these items are required in all vehicles sold in the United States. Every vehicle must have front and side versions to give drivers the safety desired. The IIHS has reported a reduction in fatalities during head-on collisions for belted drivers by 52 percent with front airbags and 37 percent for driver-size accidents. The operative word in the statement of the safety of these items is “belted drivers,” which is part of what we will cover later in this article so that you can better understand what you’re working with on the road.

Benefits of Having Airbags

These items are designed to deploy automatically when you’re in a collision. They do so quickly to cushion you from harm. When full of air, these items protect you by:

  • Increasing cushioning around the neck, head, and spine
  • Decreasing the amount of force to a person’s head by limiting the distance it can move forward
  • Decreasing the risk that a person will be sent through the window or be ejected from the car

Without airbags installed in vehicles, your safety is much more at risk than with them.

There are Risks Involved

There hasn’t been a safety device created that hasn’t been responsible for some deaths on the road, and airbags are certainly not innocent. The NHTSA has estimated that more than 300 people have died as a direct result of airbags. These things have happened because of:

  • Deployment Ignition causes serious burns when the bag fills and gasoline fumes ignite
  • Breathing problems from the Talcum powder residue that’s coating the airbag being sent into the respiratory system of the person in front of the airbag
  • The force of inflation coupled with the seating position has caused some to be injured or die when in a crash

You can’t drive around on the road in a vehicle and not think that some risks are involved. We expect our safety systems, such as airbags, to take care of us, but it’s our job to allow this to happen.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

You want your airbags to provide excellent safety during a crash, but you’re responsible for some aspects of this safety. These items are meant to function when the person being hit by them is a safe distance from them, buckled in properly, and sitting in an upright position. This all sounds easy enough but think about the last time you reclined the seat in the passenger seat to take a nap, didn’t wear a seatbelt in the rear seat, or rode around with your feet on the dashboard or out of the window. These are all situations where the airbag could cause you much more harm than good.

Let’s Talk About Airbag Myths

There are some myths about what airbags can do and how you can ride around in a vehicle. Let’s dispel some of these myths now.

Do You Need a Seatbelt in a Vehicle Equipped with Airbags?

The seatbelt you wear in your vehicle is the primary safety device to keep your body positioned in the seat properly. The safety of the airbags in the vehicle depends on you being buckled up and are the secondary safety devices. During an accident, these two items work together to keep you from being injured. If you aren’t buckled up, you could end up missing the airbag in a crash.

Can An Airbag Suffocate a Person?

If you’ve ever watched the crash tests at full speed, you’ll see that the airbags deploy rapidly and deflate almost immediately. These items don’t stay inflated and can’t cause suffocation. Airbags are made of porous materials that would not allow this to happen either. It is possible to have a reaction to the talcum powder but not to be suffocated by an airbag.

Airbags Don’t Hurt, Do They?

Watching crash test videos in slow motion makes it look like the dummies are being tossed into a giant soft pillow that would be comfortable. That’s certainly not the case. These items inflate quickly and come at you at a speed of nearly 200 mph. This speed means it can hurt you, but the bruising you might feel is much less intense than smashing your head into the steering wheel or dashboard.

Do Airbags Kill People?

As mentioned above, airbags have been directly linked to some automotive deaths, some of which had to do with the seating position of the person killed. The fatality numbers are extremely low, considering these items have saved more than 50,000 lives and counting. It’s pretty easy to see that airbags provide much more safety during your drive than the harm they could do to you.

Can You Reset the Airbag in a Vehicle?

Once an airbag has deployed, it must be replaced and reset to ensure your vehicle continues to be as safe as it needs to be. If you’ve been in an accident with the airbags deployed, this is one of the items that will be replaced and reset by a professional. This is not something you should try to do on your own.

Ride Right and Stay Safe

When you want to enjoy the most safety you can in your vehicle, you need to understand the purpose of your airbags. These items are secondary to your seatbelt, and the two systems need to work together to help save your life. Sit right and ensure your passengers are seated properly to give everyone the best chance of survival in a crash.

This post may contain affiliate links. Meaning a commission is given should you decide to make a purchase through these links, at no cost to you. All products shown are researched and tested to give an accurate review for you.

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