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May 2nd, 2000

The Airbag Issue

Every car sold in America has airbags. Airbags, we were originally told, can save your life in the event of an accident. The question raised in the late 90s was, "Can airbags kill, too?"

Car companies responded with "second generation" airbags, which deployed at a different rate. They were slower, and designed to be less forceful. We also got side airbags around that time, which would protect people from various types of side impacts.

But I won’t deny it: airbags scare me. The idea of a bag exploding in my face and possibly causing injury is not pleasant, to say the least. Is it "better" than suffering injuries as the result of an accident? Sure. But airbags might just be adding more harm to the mix.

In 1995, Robert Sanders was driving his 95 Dodge Caravan with his 7-year-old daughter in the front seat. He ran a red light at 30mph, and slammed into another car (SUV?) The impact set off the airbags. His daughter was killed, allegedly by the airbag. The case is currently in court. The accusations from both sides are rather far-fetched, to me. Sanders claims that DaimlerChrysler knew that airbags would kill people, but put them in anyway (possibly due to governmental pressure?) And DaimlerChrysler is checking Sanders’s driving record and possible prescription drug use.

The crux of DC’s argument is that the girl wasn’t sitting properly in the front seat, and airbags can only work when the passenger is seated with his/her back flat against the seat. But come on, let’s get real: how many people are seated like that all the time in their cars? If this is going to be DC’s driving force in the case, I’d say it’s weak at best.

Sanders believes that DC didn’t warn him enough about what airbags can do. No offense, but has he been under a rock? There are warning signs in the vehicle and in the vehicle’s manual. And lest we forget all the news stories about airbags. But it leads back to one of the issues at hand: did DC know that airbags can kill?

Who is to blame in this case? In my mind, the fault in this incident lies with Sanders: he ran a red light. I won’t deny that it’s tragic, because it is very tragic when someone is lost in a car accident. On the other hand, I don’t think DC is out of the woods – but it’s not entirely their fault. The other chunk of fault lies with both the automakers and the government. If they knew these things were dangerous – which they undeniably are – why were they put into cars?

Airbags save lives. But at what price? -pm

Posted in Cars

FROM: Joan
DATE: Tuesday May 2, 2000 -- 7:10:08PM
My car manual warns not to let children sit in the front seat because of the airbags. I've also seen numerous reports about fatal injuries for short people because of the airbag design. I think there is some way of getting the bags disconnected if you are in danger because of your size. If children are killed it's the driver's fault for allowing them up front. I recently read an article about a young boy who died because his grandmother allowed him to pull her car into the driveway as she always does. Only this time, he lost control of the car. It went into an embankment. The airbags activated and therefore the result was fatal for him.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Saturday May 13, 2000 -- 12:48:19AM
Follow-up: DaimlerChrysler was cleared in the trial. Thankfully - a judge with sense!

FROM: Joan
DATE: Friday May 19, 2000 -- 6:34:55PM
I recently saw a special on tv discussing the new side air bags above the windows. They said the reason for more air bags is so that manufacturors can use less steel and save money. Gee, doesn't that sound like good thinking?

FROM: Morgan
DATE: Thursday March 29, 2001 -- 5:07:34PM
airbags are mandatory and switches only come with governmental permission people are sent to jail for not turning off their airbags
what about cars with only 2 seats?
airbags are mandatory in those also
switches arent allowed in those cars made past dec 31 2000

DATE: Thursday June 20, 2002 -- 4:35:00 pm
I just like the word "crux."

FROM: safe driver
DATE: Tuesday November 11, 2003 -- 9:26:03 pm
Joan, if you ever visit this website again this is for you. If you believe every T.V. special you watch or dont second guess it you need to realize that when mom and dad says not to believe everything you see on t.v. maybe you shold have listened because because if you actually go to national driver safety webpages it will tell you that it is not the car manufactuers trying to save money but trying to save your life and many others due to the number of side impact crashes. That is why they call them "side" airbags, please think or research before you post something stupid again. Drive safely

FROM: jk
DATE: Tuesday November 11, 2003 -- 10:17:28 pm
Whoa, I am not the above Joan. Can I just clarify that? Phew.

Well, you know I would not have misspelled "manufacturers", so no one thought it was me, right?

What is this then?

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