The Disadvantages of Air Bags

by Stephen Saylor
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airbag image by Dimitar Atanasov from

Air bags are standard equipment on late-model cars. Not everyone has become convinced that air bags provide the safest way to prevent serious injury during a collision. A high-speed crash can impose enough of a risk without the a large bag bursting into your face. According to Dover law firm, "Because an airbag takes only 1/20 of a second to deploy, its force can be enough to snap the neck of a passenger who has slid too far forward."

Shorted Out

Air bags pose a potential risk for passengers who are shorter than average. According to a 1996 "New York Times" article, government statistics have shown that 19 ''short-statured'' people, most of whom were not wearing seat belts, have died as a result of air bags in crashes that they otherwise could have survived.

What They Do Not Do

Air bags do not replace the need for seat belts. Some people wearing no belt or only a lap belt have been hurt and killed by the deployment of the air bag. Children carried on laps in the front seat have died due to the airbags. As quoted by California attorney John Blusner, a 2007 "Kansas City Star" article asserted that "1,400 people may have died in head or frontal collisions because their frontal airbags did not deploy."

Economic Damage

In a small, low-impact crash of as little as 10 miles per hour (mph), your air bag can deploy. The cost of replacing the air bag and the damage to the dashboard can run between $400 and $1,400---possibly more than the cost to repair the damage to the outside of the vehicle. The owner may decide to ignore a small dent in the fender but still have to pay for the airbag and dash repairs.

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