Some people believe that airbags make seat belts unnecessary. They argue that seat belts are pointless because an airbag will cushion one’s impact with the steering wheel or dashboard. Although convenient to believe, this isn’t true. Air bags are designed to supplement seat belts and are not a substitute for them. Seat belts are restraint devices that keep the person in position during a crash while airbags are a cushion for the face. Specifically, they are meant to cushion the face of a seat belted person. More details on this distinction are discussed next.
Airbags Alone May Cause Severe Injury
Without a seat belt, the motorist’s face impacts the airbag while the rest of his body continues moving forward underneath it. This may cause neck and spinal cord injuries. In addition, airbags are not soft pillows. They are designed to fully inflate before the person’s face comes into contact with them. However, hard braking before the accident can bring the unbelted person’s face within the airbag’s inflation zone before the impact triggers its inflation. This means the bag will strike his face at inflation speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. For comparison purposes, the fast balls of major league baseball players leave their bats at speeds of only 110 mph.
Airbags Do Not Restrain The Motorist
Accidents do not always occur as simple front end collisions which is what the front mounted airbags protect against. Cars can be hit from different angles. They sometimes go off the road and tumble down embankments. When this happens, the unrestrained motorist is violently tossed about the inside of the car while impacting the inside surfaces as well as other unrestrained motorists. Unrestrained motorists are sometimes ejected with fatal results.
In simple terms, airbags do not hold the car occupant in place during an accident. This is the primary reason why airbags are not a substitute for seat belts.