People who are not inclined to use seat belts often argue that air bags make them redundant. They see airbags as inflatable cushions that pad their faces from the forces of impact, and therefore do not see the need for a seat belt that seems to do the same thing. However, they have not thought the issue through nor are they aware of the true nature of airbags and their limitations. They also have no conception of the extreme violence of high-speed collisions.
Airbags Are Not Soft Cushions
In order to do its job, an airbag must fully inflate within a split second. That is why they use an explosive chemical for their inflation. Its inflation has been described as sounding like a gunshot. If one’s face gets in the way during the airbag’s deployment, the bag will hit their face with the force of a baseball bat.
If one is not seat belted, hard braking can bring their face within striking distance of the airbag which then inflates during the car’s collision. Airbags can break bones and cause serious or even fatal injuries to the head, neck, and chest during its deployment. Your face is only supposed to contact the airbag after it has fully deployed. Wearing your seat belt ensures this.
According to the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, drivers and front-seat passengers have a higher chance of sustaining a spinal fracture and spinal cord injury when airbags are used without seat belts during a frontal collision.
Airbags Will Not Restrain You
This means it will not help you during a rollover or a side impact. Severe injury or death may occur to the unrestrained person due to their violent motion within the car, or possible ejection out of the car. This does not happen with seat belts because they hold you in place. The seat belt’s restraint also keeps you at the steering wheel when making hard maneuvers to avoid an accident.