Airbags: Saving Lives (Mostly) Since 1991

airbag recall

Have you ever had an airbag deploy in your car?

I’m lucky, because the only airbags I’ve ever seen in use have been in videos of crash tests. Airbags stay hidden most of the time, silently tucked away and forgotten. The only reminders of their existence are the subtle etchings in the surfaces that hide them.

Airbags are meant to save lives, and they have, with many thousands of people owing their continued existence to an explosive cushion of air. Airbags, though, have also taken lives by ejecting with too much force, ejecting with young children in the seat, or, most recently, exploding and sending shrapnel at drivers and passengers.

Airbags were first installed in production vehicles in the early 1990s. By 2004, 242 people, many of them children, had been killed by the force of an airbag’s ejection.

Modern technology allows for airbags to be turned off if the vehicle senses a child in the front seat. Also, the force needed to deploy an airbag has been reduced.

But there are still problems.

A massive airbag recall is currently underway by at least 10 major automakers and involves vehicles equipped with airbags made by Takata. Like airbags themselves, these recalls have happened largely under the surface. CNN said:

Tens of millions of cars equipped with Takata airbags have been recalled by automakers recently over fears the airbags may explode and send shrapnel flying at drivers and passengers. Honda has now issued more than 10 separate recalls over the issue.

This week alone, Toyota and Nissan have recalled more than 6.5 million vehicles because of the issue, which has been linked to at least five deaths and many more serious injuries. BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Subaru have also issued recalls.

How can you protect yourself? First, check your automaker’s recall website. Most of them have an easy field where you can enter you VIN and check for any recalls. If your car is affected, have it repaired immediately.

It’s also important to drive with proper posture in case of an airbag deployment. Children under 12 years old need to ride in the back seat, and front-seat passengers should keep their feet on the floor, not up on the dash or hanging out the window. Drivers shouldn’t leave their hands on top of the steering wheel, because should the airbag deploy, it can slam the driver’s fists into his or her face at close to 100 miles per hour.

Make sure airbags protect you, not hurt you, by getting your car fixed if necessary and following the recommended precautions for all passengers.

Have you ever had an airbag deploy in your car?


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