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MrJoshua SuperDork
8/2/09 10:19 p.m.


mad_machine GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/2/09 10:32 p.m.

hate them. I ALWAYS wear my seatbelt and there for have little use for a "supplemental Restraint System"

Only ever been in one accident with a car with an airbag.. rear ended a stopped pickup truck after swerving to avoid an idiot pulling out without looking where he was going. I burnt the skin on the back of my hand on the bag and really hurt my wrist

NYG95GA SuperDork
8/2/09 10:37 p.m.

Got 'em. Hope I never need 'em.

Tommy Suddard
Tommy Suddard GRM+ Memberand SonDork
8/2/09 10:39 p.m.

Hate them too. Always wear my seatbelt. My dad has been in one wreck in an airbagged car. The smoke just made him choke. He didn't even hit it.

spdracer315 New Reader
8/2/09 10:45 p.m.

Never owned a car with one, never needed one (knock on wood). Hope i never do need one. With that i always wear my seatbelt, but in the event that i do need one, i guess id rather it be there.

neon4891 SuperDork
8/2/09 10:53 p.m.

Never had one deploy in any of my accidents

Stealthtercel New Reader
8/2/09 11:15 p.m.

My understanding, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that your Congress imposed airbags on the marketplace because it wanted to do SOMETHING to help stupid people survive collisions but didn't want to make it against the law not to wear a seat belt. The airbag therefore has to have enough attitude to catch an unbelted stupid person flying towards his steering wheel at the velocity he had before his car abruptly stopped. After all, stupid people cast votes too.

Personally, I have two vehicles with airbags; one is nine years old and the other is fourteen. (The Stealthtercel was the last year for NO airbags, at least in Canada.) My comfort level with having these aging explosive devices in front of my face is falling every day.

Having said all that, I also understand that side-impact airbags have been shown to do a lot of good. The newer generation of bags that deploy with variable severity depending on your actual circumstances also seem like a better plan.

griffin729 Reader
8/2/09 11:25 p.m.

Once saw a guy driving through a parking lot doing about 15mph talking on a cell phone, he drove right into a light pole the car bounce back a couple feet and about a foot into the air, airbag never deployed. I've had two incidents where I was the vehicle at fault in a rear end collision, emergency stops and I needed about six inches to a foot more to stop. No need for an airbag on those. One other I caused, I was driving a large commercial truck. I came to a stop sign on a county road crossing a US highway. Quick glance both ways looked clear I pulled out. Turns out there was a Civic heading north bound just in the blind spot behind my passenger side mirror. I pulled out and the Civic t-boned me, just behind the cab, doing about 60. An International DT-4600 will drive over the top of the hood of a Honda. There are gouges in the pavement, still there, from where I drove the front subframe into the asphalt. That is a very fast stop from 60. The driver came away shaken and bruised. The passenger ended up with a couple cracked ribs from the seat belt. Over all, that was one crash where I believe airbags helped prevent much worse. I always pause long enough now to make sure the way is clear. We may not like airbags, but they can be helpful when you need them. Cause most people don't have a proper cage, seat, and harness. All I got out of that wreck was a sore neck from a very rough ride, and a 2 point ticket for Failure to Yield. I think I probably deserved more. I have hopefully learned my lesson on inattentiveness. Drive safe everyone.

thedude New Reader
8/3/09 12:23 a.m.
mad_machine wrote: hate them. I ALWAYS wear my seatbelt and there for have little use for a "supplemental Restraint System"

It's called "supplemental restraint system" because the airbag supplements the seatbelts.

neon4891 SuperDork
8/3/09 12:26 a.m.
griffin729 wrote: All I got out of that wreck was a sore neck from a very rough ride, and a 2 point ticket for Failure to Yield. I think I probably deserved more. I have hopefully learned my lesson on inattentiveness. Drive safe everyone.

I shall go off topic with this. When I was tickited for 98 on an empty, devided highway, I had nearly lost my Liscence. When I was pegged at 52 on a 30/55 line on a back road, I ended up with, IIRC, 4 points and $150+ fine. Yet when I was not paying attention behind the wheel I rear-ended a minivan, totaling both cars and putting 3 other lives at risk, I receved my lightest punishment. 2 points and only $120. I guess that it is better , in the eyes of the law,to be recless and cause thousands or more dollars worth of damage than it is to go a little fast.

Back to our debate of a life saving device

Shaun New Reader
8/3/09 12:27 a.m.

Airbags are Un-American.

Keith GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
8/3/09 1:08 a.m.

The best way to survive an accident is not to be in it. Instead of filling cars with inflatable pillows, people should be taught how to drive and minimum dynamic standards imposed on all vehicles. I'd love to see a maximum 60-0 stopping distance instead of mandatory airbags.

I've always thought it interesting that the same year the US required some sort of active safety device (mouse belts or airbags), Canada started requiring DRLs. Of course, you can debate those as well and it's certainly true that like anything else, they can be implemented well or implemented badly. But one's an inexpensive, simple and (in my opinion) effective way to cut down on accidents overall without any real downsides. The other is very expensive and only works in a particular type of accident, when you're probably going to get hurt already. Seems to me the preventative measure is a whole lot more intelligent.

But that's just me.

friedgreencorrado HalfDork
8/3/09 1:35 a.m.
Stealthtercel wrote: My understanding, and please correct me if I'm wrong, is that your Congress imposed airbags on the marketplace because it wanted to do SOMETHING to help stupid people survive collisions but didn't want to make it against the law not to wear a seat belt.

You don't know the half of it...even with airbags being mandatory nowdays, there are still mandatory seat belt laws in many of our states.

As an American, I disagree with those laws, but I also disagree with having my insurance premiums pay for medical care for people too stupid to belt up.

As much as I hate private "health care" in my country, I have to tip my hat at the corporate overlords that want to stop insurance payouts for folks who still won't plug `em up when they climb onboard. IMO, it's your "right" as an American not to wear a belt...but if you expect for me to help pay for your idiocy, perhaps you should just lie in the ditch until you get better.

Y'all, I have to admit...sometimes it's difficult to be a "librul" and a car guy at the same time...

dxman92 New Reader
8/3/09 8:13 a.m.

This is somewhat related but I hated the passive electric belts my escort has. Whoever came up with the idea for those should get a swift kick in the nuts..

Jensenman SuperDork
8/3/09 8:38 a.m.

I'm going to try to stay out of the 'government mandate' part for a minute and focus instead on the impractical aspects of airbags.

First things first: an airbag is not meant to stop you, that would be like smacking your face into a brick wall. It is meant to slow and cushion forward motion. For that reason, unlike the TV ads you see where an airbag inflates and then stays there, an airbag inflates then deflates at a predetermined rate of speed. (If you were wearing a properly designed seatbelt the airbag would never reach your face. But that's for later.) For that reason a frontal airbag is good for only one hit, meaning in multiple strike situations you are screwed after the first hit because after that the airbag is just hanging there limply.

Frontal airbags are also designed to inflate only under a certain set of circumstances determined by the rate and angle of deceleration. Basically the car has to be going roughly 20 MPH or faster and the 'hit' needs to be roughly 11 degrees either side of the centerline of the vehicle. So if you are sitting still and get nailed from the front, there is a real good chance said airbag will just sit there being useless.

Frontal airbags are also pretty much useless in rollover situations. So now we have the side curtain airbag. Those are designed somewhat differently and are meant to cushion, unlike the frontal bag. So they will stay inflated longer than the frontal bag yet will still deflate after a predetermined time interval. The unfortunate aspect: the side curtain bag will not in any way compensate for roof crush or other passenger compartment deformation. For that, the occupants are on their own. Which brings us to:

According to the IIHS and NHTSA, occupants of smaller cars are more likely to be killed or seriously injured in a frontal or side impact while occupants of larger vehicles (generally SUVs) are more likely to be killed in rollovers. http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality_facts_2007/occupants.html link to NHTSA from there. The thing both of these have in common: deforming of the passenger compartment leading to the injury or death. Airbags don't seem to help a lot.

So where does this lead us? IMHO it tells me that the money spent on airbags was just pissed into the wind. That money would have been better spent developing stronger safety cages integrated into car structures.

Ever look at a windshield A pillar when it's been cut open? It's as near useless for support as you'll ever see. There's two pieces of what looks like 14 gauge steel, stamped into the correct shape for the internal/external appearance then spot welded together. The same holds true of the B, C, D etc pillars. Then look at the inside of the roof with a headliner removed, same thing. Look inside a door with the trim panel removed, you see a 'corrugated' panel (sometimes it's a tube) which is supposed to be an anti intrusion device. Problem is, it's usually situated halfway between the hinges and does not align with the latch mounting, meaning the door can buckle easily in a side impact. Look inside a cowl area with all the stuff removed, there's not a damn thing done there to truly reinforce that area of the car. The front frame rails etc have strategic bends to allow crumpling and thus absorption of energy before it gets to the passenger compartment, but the compartment itself is not well reinforced.

There is no reason, given modern computerized hydroforming techniques, that a true no-E36 M3 roll cage could not be added into a car body during manufacture. And be completely invisible. Heck, NASCAR type door bars could even be done; just place them in the door so that side impacts would be transmitted not to the door's ends (usually stamped out of 16 or so gauge steel) but rather directly into the door hinges which would then feed that force into the properly caged body structure. Add interior panels with impact absorbing properties and THAT would go a lot further towards reducing deaths and injuries than filling the inside of the car with electronics, rocket fuel and leaky balloons.

If it were possible to add 4 point seat belts (5 point would be better but good luck getting most people to wear those ) integrated into well designed seats which would hold the occupant properly during a crash then I do believe we would see a drastic reduction in fatalities far above and beyond anything the airbag has ever allegedly accomplished.

So now we come to the government mandate part of things. I too am appalled at mandatory seat belt and helmet laws. The unfortunate thing: it was the big fight over all of that which led to airbags in the first place along with removing convertibles from the US market for a while. Da gubmint was gonna save you from youself no matter WHAT. (I have to admit, if you go back and look at some of the 1960's and 1970's cars, something needed to be done. Just look at all the sharp hard metal stuff inside. ) So now we have interiors filled with rocket fuel, electronics and leaky balloons. I'm hard pressed to say which is worse.

Jensenman SuperDork
8/3/09 8:56 a.m.

BTW, those electronic passive belts were part of the same government mandate. That's where the weird VW and GM seatbelts which attached to the door window frame came from as well. The stupid thing about those: they were useless unless the lap belt was buckled which required action on the part of the occupants, meaning you STILL had to buckle up. Not to mention with those designs if the door came open during a crash, or the window frame was deformed, the seat belt became essentially useless.

In the 1970's the NHTSA mandated a starter/seat belt interlock (it actually went into effect August 15, 1973) which meant you could not start the engine until the belts were buckled. Congress smacked them upside the head and by early February 1974 the seat belt/ignition interlock was no more, replaced by the buzzer/bell/light we all know so well. The NHTSA was not about to give up so they started mandating occupant protection without truly specifying exactly how that was to be accomplished, thus off we went into airbag land.

Trivia: Ford and GM both had airbags in government fleet vehicles as far back as 1971. GM offered airbags as an option on certain cars sold to the public in the mid '70's. They did not become truly mandatory in all passenger cars until 1998.

Carson Dork
8/3/09 10:07 a.m.

I get a discount on my car insurance for having one in the Miata! That's my only positive I can think of.

A co-worker in search for a new car compiled a very in-depth spreadsheet of all the sedans in a certain price range and ranked them by their number of airbags. Ultimately, he purchased the car with the most air bags. It was his deciding factor, so I guess some people like them and find them important. The Hyundai Elantra won out, by the way. He didn't even test drive anything else.

Talk about planning worst case scenarios. I'd imagine he'll be driving a much larger percentage of the time than deploying airbags.

EastCoastMojo GRM+ Memberand Dork
8/3/09 10:25 a.m.

I don't like 'em. They get all up in your face.

Rusty_Rabbit84 HalfDork
8/3/09 10:35 a.m.
Clarkson said: There is no airbag. TVR's argumnet is "Well, don't crash then"

This is what i think and finely said by TVR


thedude New Reader
8/3/09 10:52 a.m.

Yes, I agree that everyone having a roll cage and harnesses would be great.

No, I do not think this is feasible.

Airbags work under specific cirumstances, and don't under others. That isn't a reason not to have them at all. Side impact airbags seem to be great.

And no, I do not believe that the roof structure of cars is made of 14 gauge sheet metal.

DoctorBlade New Reader
8/3/09 11:10 a.m.

I've actually had the one in my late 92 Plymouth Minivan go off. I had someone in a Camaro decide that since she had the sports car, she could surely pull across my lane and onto the side street. She didn't make it, and I broadsided her pretty Camaro at 30. Airbag deployed, although I'm not sure if I hit it or not. I do know that outside of a sprained wrist I was fine.

Not five minutes before that, my two year old daughter had pulled her "houdini" act and slid out of her baby seat and hopped up in the front seat at a red light. I had a small bovine, pulled over and planted her diapered butt back in it, with the straps pulled tighter. I double checked her more sedate and older brother (3), and then drove down the road to the date with the Camaro. While airbags may be of questionable benefit, Baby Seats are a requirement, or should be.

wlkelley3 HalfDork
8/3/09 11:45 a.m.

While airbags can be argued either way, to me the biggest arguement is why we need them in the first place. If everyone drives sanely then airbags (or seatbelts for that matter) aren't needed. But the fact remains that there are stupid drivers out there and sometimes good drivers have a momentary lapse of reason and screw up. Do airbags work? YES!!! They saved my daughter a couple years ago when she got sideswiped and run off the highway. The car hit a median and flipped and rolled 2 1/2 times ending up on the drivers side against traffic. She crawled out of where the rear window used to be. Thanks to front and side airbags plus her autocross training, she ended up with seatbelt and airbag bruises and a cracked bone in her left hand when she tucked it up. The side airbags probably did the most good since the car slide on the drivers side and took out the window, the bag kept her from getting road rash (or worse). The car? A 2006 Honda Civic - totaled! But did its job keeping her safe. The other driver? Understand she just got out of jail (6 month sentence) for not having insurance (in a insurance mandatory state), leaving a scene of a accident (hit & run) and evading arrest.

So put me in the catagory of got'em and hope to never need them.

RossD Reader
8/3/09 12:19 p.m.

I like having all those air bags in my Audi. They seem to be everywhere in there. I'd rather have a car with them, than without. I am pretty sure that air bags save more lives than hurt people, and the arguements that they arent 100% effective in 100% of situations is bogus. If an air bag gave me a 1% chance of being effective in 1% of the possible situations; I'd take a hundred of them. Or go the "Demolition Man" way out of it and have the car fill with hard foam and you have to break your way out after the crash.

cwh Dork
8/3/09 12:28 p.m.

Seat belts and airbags are like guns. I'd rather have them and not need them than to need them and not have them

Jensenman SuperDork
8/3/09 12:28 p.m.
thedude wrote: And no, I do not believe that the roof structure of cars is made of 14 gauge sheet metal.

Not a flame, not trying to be a wise guy. Just, next time you are in a boneyard see if you can find a car with the headliner missing (a cargo van would be perfect) and look really closely at the internal roof structure. The outer skin is something like 20 gauge, the reinforcements ('halo') are something like 14 gauge. I've never actually measured it so I'm guessing.

But no matter what it isn't real thick. It's not as thick as 1.750 x .095 roll bar tubing. 14 gauge ferrous is .0747 http://www.engineersedge.com/gauge.htm and that seems about the thickness of the stuff I have seen. Add to that the spacing of the spot welds and you can see that it's nowhere near as strong as similar gauge tubing.

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