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Question Of The Day: What Vehicle Safety Features Do You Put Faith Into?

Question Of The Day: What Vehicle Safety Features Do You Put Faith Into?

Earlier this week we reported on Takata’s admission to the NHTSA that their airbag inflators were faulty, which in turn has set the stage for what very well may be the biggest recall of a product in history, at a current count of 33.8 million vehicles with the option to include more. Wonderful news, isn’t it? The system that was designed to advance safety in vehicles is, for the second time, under serious suspicion for the potential to be more deadly than safe. Remember the issues with the powerful airbag inflators in the 1990s?

Opinions will vary on what is safe and what isn’t, and my opinions generally don’t mean squat to most. Personally, I’ve never understood the reasoning for airbags, and that opinion was cemented when a teacher I had in junior high showed up for work one day with dermatitis, burns and a broken nose that was all due to the airbag deployment on her 1993 Volkswagen. Then again, there are plenty of injuries attributed to seat belts when they functioned properly and worn right. But one thought has been in my mind since I was a kid: why is it that once the seat belts are bolted into the car, that’s it? Are the seat belts in a 1973 Ford Torino just as safe as the ones in my Chrysler 300C? Are they not affected whatsoever by years of sunlight, UV rays, heat and cold cycling, spilled soda and food, sweat and other chemically degrading substances? It makes no sense to me personally, like the country’s seriously lacking driver licensing system, but maybe that’s just me.


So what do I put my faith in? Five point harnesses. If it’s good enough for drag cars and helicopter pilots, it’s good enough for me. Two shoulder belts, two lap belts, and one anti-submarine (read: crotch) belt, properly anchored. I’ve seen pilots walk away from crashes wearing those…good enough for me, but is it good enough for you? What is your idea of a good safety feature? Is it just good brakes and tires coupled with excellent driver skill, or do you need the marshmallow airbag system the cop cars had in the movie Demolition Man?


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10 thoughts on “Question Of The Day: What Vehicle Safety Features Do You Put Faith Into?

  1. John T

    Bryan, kinda confused by your seat belt thoughts….you put your faith in 5 points – but not sure about other seat belts because they might degrade? 5 points can degrade in exactly the same way….I’m not against 5 points but I do get slightly worried that they’ll keep you upright even if you don’t want to be… eg in a rollover type situation. I had a fairly intense roll (5 rolls plus a few end for ends) in a Falcon ute that had my head rather uncomfortably compressed by the roof… In Australia seat belts have been mandatory since the late 60’s and lots of rules have grown up around them here – faded, stretched or frayed belts can attract a defect notice and put the entire car off the road. Cos we grew up with belts I couldn’t imagine driving a car without them on – watching American shows where nobody has their seatbelt on seriously freaks me out…

  2. Richardwallendal

    In the race car, I have come to like the arm restraints, head restraint, and. Window net

  3. ColoradoKid

    Hmmn … so lets see now .

    The Airbags can blow up in my face for no good reason

    ABS and TC can fail at any minute … or just as bad .. be fooled by mixed conditions .. or worse .. if they can’t be turned off cause more problems than they solve [ in loose snow , sand and gravel ]

    Those so called ‘ Safety ‘ bumpers are just an excuse for the manufacture and the body repair shop to charge you a godawful fortune for a technology that accomplishes … nothing

    That ‘ safety ‘ glass is more often than not …. anything but safe

    All that ‘ safety ‘ structure / door beams etc the government mandates and the manufactures comply with which is why we can’t get a lot of the cars and trucks we want here once again falls under the category of over priced senselessness that does not work 90% of the time

    So … err .. whats left ?

    Well .. As did Logan I’ll go with

    #1 .. first and foremost … Myself

    … and in addition

    #2 Seatbelts

    But seriously McTaggert ! Five point harnesses … for the Road ? You completely outta yer freaking mind son ? Right off the top of my head I can give you 20 ( damn compelling ) reasons why thats a very bad idea … from making removal [ of your carcass ] time consuming and difficult .. to the above mentioned upright position [ which in a road accident more often than not is the position you do not want to be in ] .. each and every one leading to the same conclusion .. its a very bad idea indeed . And hell … 20 is just the short list .

    1. ColoradoKid

      Addendum ;

      In my household we have a phrase for the likes of ;

      All the safety nannies in cars these days
      So called ‘ security ‘ gates in neighborhoods
      The so called ‘ security ‘ of online financial transactions
      The so called ‘ security ‘ of the Interned in general
      Home alarm systems
      And especially those worthless as hell home alert systems for senior citizens

      we call it ….


      Cause thats all it is … from top to bottom … Smoke & Mirrors theater who’s only real accomplishment is the ability to separate you from your hard earned money


      Sermon over . Donuts and coffee in the narthex

  4. Bob Boudreau

    I’m fortunate not have had any experiences with airbags, but do trust them. Seat belts have held me in during two slow speed rollovers, both times the car ended upside down and I was hanging by the seatbelt. Had to unbuckle and drop onto my head/shoulders to get out. Can’t imagine what would have happened had I not been wearing the belts. Use them religiously! And so do all passengers in my car.

  5. Lee

    Front end crumple zone. I was in 2 head on collisions and both times it saved me that I was able to walk away without any bodily harm. Neither were my fault.

  6. Matt Cramer

    I’d rank the safety features in this order.

    1. Situational awareness. Both paying attention to what other drivers are doing and knowing the limits of yourself and your car. The best way to survive an accident is to not be there when it happens.

    2. Properly maintained brakes, steering, and suspension. And if you know something’s wrong with those, slow down!

    3. 3 point seat belts. My rule is to replace them if they’re visibly faded. And use more points if it’s going on track.

    4. A car structure that’s designed to safely absorb energy. Crumple zones, collapsible steering column, etc.

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