Cynical Synapse

Tue, 18 Sep 2007

“You People Ain’t Thinking of This”

Filed under: Behavior, Driving, Safety, Stupid car tricks — cynicalsynapse @ 9:52 pm

I’m pretty sure the comedian Leo Gallagher used to say that while introducing his latest off-the-wall “consumer product” or gimmick. I searched high and low on Google and couldn’t corroborate that, though. Nonetheless, it applies here.

Driving takes up a pretty good chunk of my time, averaging over 45,000 miles a year. That’s more than most even though it’s not in the leagues with the professionals. It does give me the chance to see a fair amount of what I’ll call “stupid car tricks,” which I think may be a semi-regular feature here.

So, what aren’t people thinking of? Why, the ramifications of the passenger-side airbag going off with their feet on the dash, of course. How many times have you seen this going down the road? Perhaps the Darwinists are right—if people choose to circumvent safety features designed to protect them from being stupid, maybe they don’t exactly meet the criteria for “survival of the fittist…”

Hmmm. Guess it’s not too obvious that’s a pet peeve. But it’s not just me. Statistics show seatbelt use saves thousands of lives every year. To be effective, though, the seatbelt has to be properly worn across the hips with the shoulder harness across the shoulder. If the seat is reclined, the seatbelt is not going to hold you in place because it’s designed and installed for an upright person. Jim McDonald talks about the efficacy of seatbelts.

Airbags are a supplementary safety feature, meaning the seatbelt is the primary occupant restraint. The airbag is intended to keep your head from impacting against the dashboard. A reclining passenger might not be in line with the airbag and is likely to arrive at the dash too late, thus rendering the airbag ineffective at best. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ties seatbelts and airbags together on their website.

Now consider a person resting their feet on the dash. What do you think the effect is as the airbag propels their knees toward their head while the head is being thrown forward? Don’t think the airbag is powerful enough for that? Judge for yourself from this video:

Tell your relatives and friends about this if you want to make a difference. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them. In actuality, we lose a planeload (about 115 people) every day in the US from vehicle accidents. Pressure the people you care about to wear their seatbelts and sit properly to increase their likelihood to not suffer a serious injury or worse.


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