Out of sight, out of mind. This is a phrase that we often use to describe something that is easily dismissed or not important unless it is not in our direct view. The airbags in our vehicles definitely fall into this category, but this should not be the case. If they are ignored, they can hurt as much as they help during a collision.
If I were to place a bet on whether you had read the entire section in your vehicle’s owner’s manual about airbags I would bet that you haven’t. I make this guess based on what I see happening around me in traffic when I travel. You would not be a front seat passenger with your feet up on the dash if you truly understood what would happen to you if that airbag deployed. Ditto with a pillow against the B pillar sleeping if your vehicle has side curtain airbags.
An airbag deployment is really a controlled explosion. It has to be ready in the blink of an eye in order to get between you and your vehicle in time to protect you. Remember, the trigger occurs after the start of the collision with whatever you are colliding with and the force of deployment is significant.
You may consider it too boring to bother with but it may fall into the category of “you’ll be glad that you did.” If you haven’t read your vehicle’s owner’s manual about seatbelts and airbags, it’s time to dig it out now. The education is worth your time and could save you from serious injury.
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.