• Oct 22nd 2007 at 11:03AM
  • 108
How much do you trust your car's airbag to protect you? When you get through reading what the Kansas City Star has to say about them, they may no longer seem as trustworthy.
The paper cites several horrifying stories about head-on crashes in which the airbags failed to deploy and occupants died. After crunching numbers on thousands of fatal crashes, the paper's staff found a surprising number of deaths that might be blamed on faulty airbags. But the project went further and eliminated any that might be questionable and ended up with what the story calls a "conservative" estimate. If their methodology is correct, at least 1,400 people died from 2001 to 2006 in frontal crashes when their cars' airbags did not inflate at all.

While that number is disturbing, what we find more troubling is the paper's tales of investigations into faulty airbags that seem to drag on forever before a recall is issued, in at least one case, allowing more fatalities. And don't think your car is exempt. The story says all manufacturers have had reports of defective airbags.

These findings should not just scare, but also remind everyone not to count on airbags alone and reinforce the wisdom of buckling up.

Oh, by the way: before commenting that this is nothing but a sensationalistic story to sell papers, read the articles. These guys did tons of research and talked to former and current NHTSA employees, then produced a series of what read like balanced, level-headed journalism.

[Source: The Kansas City Star]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Hey, don't ANY of you guys realize that the question here is not pro or con the airbags...


      You are not ALLOWED to decide for yourself if you want to have a stupid airbag.

      Thanks for nothing, scumsucking liberals!!!
      • 7 Years Ago
      If people would refrain from driving into other vehicles and/or immovable objects, it would certainly lower the number of fatal accidents.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Is this the same stuff as somebody having been injured by a seat belt? (What if you don't wear a seat belt, do you get to sue the car company, too? My sister-in-law and her son were in a head on collision in an old Subaru Legacy with an old Cadillac "tank" there were no airbags on these older cars. The boy had his seat belt on and his spleen was bruised!That's it! The mother didn't have hers on. She broke her eye glasses on her nose, her ankle was crushed (she's had surgery on it since), her arm was badly bruised the old Cadillac drunk driver walked away. I'd rather be scorched by the powder in an airbag then thrown through the windshield, or worse.
      vivian bagley
      • 7 Years Ago
      • 7 Years Ago
      Okay, so airbags can cause injury (and do) in a collision. Okay, so sometimes airbags don't deploy in a collision, failing to save lives. So what percent of these injuries and deaths was the result of collisions where the passengers or drivers were NOT wearing seatbelts? It's STILL essential to wear your seatbelt, airbag or no airbag.

      1) If the airbag fails, you are still protected to a large degree. Seatbelts make the difference between being scraped up after a collision and walking away from it.

      2) Front airbags won't do beans to protect you from being ejected and being injured when you hit the ground (darn that gravity anyways) if it's a rollover or similar collision. Again, seatbelts help protect you from being thrown from the vehicle--as long as they are PROPERLY worn, maintained and adjusted.

      Finally, how about driving defensively and staying alert? No texting, no cell phone usage, no lunching, no makeup application, no reading, no smacking the kids in the back seat--you get the idea--while driving. Remember you are operating a 2000-plus-pound chunk of speeding metal, and so are all the other drivers on the road. When you are driving, that should be the sole focus of your attention: DRIVING.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I was interested in this article because I was recently(last week) in an accident that deployed the airbags. I am convinced mine saved me from serious injuries, or even death. My 15 year old daughter is also grateful for the passenger airbag. The scratches and 'rug burns' were well worth the price for our lives.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I recently totalled a 2000 toyota elica and the airbag did not deploy. I was wearing my seatbelt and no one was injured but it did make me question the actual safety of the vehicle.
        • 7 Years Ago
        WOW were they still making Selicas in 2000???
        • 7 Years Ago
        I have had 2 head on crashes in my 1998 chevy prizm and the airbag has never gone off. Both time the auto body shop was surprised that it did not deploy and said it should have.
        • 7 Years Ago
        I definitly hit her straight on. The front of my car was pretty well destroyed. Personnally I dont like airbags. They scare me. But the fact that it didnt go off was a bit scary too.
        • 7 Years Ago
        Which direction did you hit/get hit from? If it was the front, I'd be wary.

        If you got hit in the side, I wouldn't expect them to go off (unless you've got side-impact airbags), since deploying the front airbags in a side or side frontal collision doesn't help any.
      • 7 Years Ago
      Yes there have been defective air bags, but air bags are still the best protection offered us in an automobile. Further, every manufacturer tells us to use seat belts with air bags. Someone tell us how many lives were saved by air bags.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I still hear people even with all the know about seat belt saving lives do not want to wear them.They are scared of being trap in a burning car.
      I think air bags may have some risk but if they work right will save a life.My husband cousian was in a wreck and walk away from it because of the air bag. One may have even saved Princess di if she had one.Yes I know she wasn't driveing but it would have save her if she had been.
      • 7 Years Ago
      I saw a show where a current model Renault Espace was smashed head on into a 10 year old Renault Espace. The 10 year old car was severly damaged, and all air bags deployed. The new model didn't deploy airbags. Why? Because the system determined that it wasn't necessary.

      Keep in mind that airbags are SUPPLEMENTAL restraints, they are not meant to replace seat belts. By saying that the airbag didn't deploy and therefore can be attributed to a death you are pushing the design requirements for the system beyond what is reasonable. This is why the early systems were "dangerous" they had to deploy and catch an unrestrained crash dummy - and they way to do that was to deploy very rapidly.

      Now.. I'm off to read the article :-)
      • 7 Years Ago
      My daughters car slid in the rain when she was turning a corner..not fast mind you....the roads were slick coz we had not had any rain in Miami in months and the oil from the cars made the road very slippery..matter of fact that same weekend there were over 500 accidents coz of the slippery roads...anyhow, she barely bumped the curb at about 10 mph on the right side of her car...a Ford Focus.. and BOTH air bags went off destroying her front windshield and sending glass all over them..and also covering them with black stuff and burns from the air bags deploying. Not to mention it burned their lungs too from whatever chemicals they use to deploy the airbags. It was ridiculous those airbags went off at such a low speed and bump. Not good. Needless to say replacing a friggin airbag costs money and so did having to replace her windshield...we were told all the Ford Focus have their windshields broken by the airbags. We had to replace it since it destroys your steering wheel and my husband promptly disconnected the system for the airbag! He says they are not worth it and are more dangerous then anything else..and he is a tech so he should know. I think airbags are a joke. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE MONEY THE CAR MAKERS MAKE!
      • 7 Years Ago
      So much ignorance, so little time.

      Wearing your seatbelt does not deactivate the airbag.

      Wearing your seatbelt does not protect your head/neck from fatal injury. High crash speeds can actually separate your head from your neck with only the flesh holding it on. This is how Earnhardt died and why the HANS device is worn in NASCAR. Airbags cushion the unrestrained head.

      The article is repeatedly misleading by stating "faulty airbags" and "bad airbags" when it is an issue with the sensing system, NOT the airbag.

      As usual, ignorant people will say that the airbag will kill you and don't want it and it doesn't save lives; but when it doesn't deploy and someone dies they'll say it could have saved their life. You can't have it both ways people.

      The rational choice is to accept a small percentage of deaths from airbag deployments versus a very large percentage of deaths that would result without having airbags. Those of us in the auto industry continue to do our best to reduce that small percentage as much as possible.
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