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Aethelflaed's avatar

How much added protection do airbags provide?

Asked by Aethelflaed (13752points) January 20th, 2012

How much safer are you in a car with airbags? Is the financial cost worth the added safety?

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9 Answers

wundayatta's avatar

I think it adds about 2% additional protection when compared to safety belts. However, it is a good deal more than that when compared to nothing. This is a memory from reading about it several years back. Don’t remember where, though. What I do remember is thinking that if you’re going to wear seatbelts, it doesn’t seem worth spending money on air bags.

marinelife's avatar

Totally worth it. Did you see the car in California
/kabc/story?section=news/state&id=8505169 that went over the bridge?

“In frontal crashes, frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities by 29 percent and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 32 percent. The fatality reduction in frontal crashes is larger for unbelted drivers (34 percent), compared with belted drivers (21 percent). NHTSA estimates that the combination of an airbag plus a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of death by 61 percent, compared with a 50 percent reduction for belts alone in frontal crashes.2”

“Side airbags: Side airbags with head protection reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and an SUV driver’s risk by 52 percent, an Institute analysis shows. Side airbags designed to protect only the torso reduce fatality risk by 26 percent for car drivers and by 30 percent for SUV drivers.3”

Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

The might help a little in a head on collision. I always wear the seatbelts. Most of the hardest impacts I’ve felt in a crash weren’t necessarily the first impact.

marinelife's avatar

@wundayatta The improvement is significantly better than 2% as you can see from the statistics I reported.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I don’t know any numbers about survival rates, but when airbags first came out, a friend of mine who was an ER doc told me that the types of injuries sustained by drivers in front end collisions were much less serious, and fatalities were greatly reduced.

muppetish's avatar

I don’t have statistics either, but when my father’s car was totaled by a drunk hit and run driver, the deployed airbags saved his life and that of my older brother. The airbags, their seatbelts, and my fathers control of the wheel to partially swerve out of the way, helped them walk away without any injuries. I would not feel safe in the front seat of a vehicle that lacks airbags.

wundayatta's avatar

I see, @marinelife. I don’t believe it, though. I have to see if I can find where those other stats came from.

geeky_mama's avatar

I survived a crash (head on – a driver ran a red light and hit me) with only scratches and was told by the EMTs and police that without the airbag I would have surely been killed. Not only that, it deployed so perfectly that it didn’t injure my as-yet-to-be-born son (I was 6 months pregnant). There was NOTHING left of the car—it did exactly what it was designed to do-the crumple zone & airbags saved me.

Statistics say that airbags improve survival in a front-end collision by 30% but when I dated a man who engineered air bags at Delphi years ago they had statistics that were far better than that—depending on the make/model and other factors.

Charles's avatar

A big heavy vehicle with airbags is about as safe as you can practically get. (I drive a full size F-150 supercab and the wife drives a 6000 pound, 2008 sequoia with six airbags.).

Little dinky cars (I call SMART cars, “Dumb” cars) add risk.

Drive by a fire station and see what kinds of vehicles those guys drive. You don’t see too many lightweight cars there. One reason is, these are the guys who arrive at car crashes and they (along with emergency room personnel and cops) see first hand who makes out better in crashes.

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