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Old 03-16-2011, 10:57 PM   #1
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airbags dangers?

I was searching online for the locations of the airbags on the 09 focus (I want to make sure there isn't one in the A-pillar before I put a gauge pod on it... don't want that hitting me in the face now do I) and I came across these websites. One has complaints of people with newer foci being in somewhat violent accidents and having no airbags deploy. The second one is about a lawsuit for older foci having airbags deploy too easily (like by going over a curb on your driveway)

http://www.allairbagrecalls.com/comm..._comments.html

http://www.theairbagblog.com/airbag-...irbag-lawsuit/

The ones where you don't get deployment worry me more, to be honest. One of them said he had an 08 focus and rolled it 5 times and no airbags went off...

Does anyone know if Ford's working to fix this? It doesn't make me want to get rid of the car, but I'd like to get them fixed so if god forbid I ever did crash the car I don't kill myself...



and btw, if anyone can tell me if there's an airbag in my A-pillar I'd apprecaite it ;) though chances are it won't deploy anyway right? :D


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Old 03-16-2011, 11:45 PM   #2
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Many drivers simply don't understand how airbags work. They're a supplementary restraint system (that's what the SRS stands for), meaning they're supposed to work alongside with seat belts. Seat belts do most of the work of preventing serious injury. Airbags are only secondary and don't always have to deploy. In fact most instances of low-force deployment would actual cause greater injury.

Airbags are not soft pillows. They hurt. They can knock teeth out, break your nose, cause lacerations, burns, bruises, etc. For that reason they're used as a very last resort to protect drivers. Onboard sensors precisely calculate what forces are being applied to the car (and from where) during an accident, which will ultimately determine whether to make that split-second decision to deploy or not.

Consider the following:

1. The fact that all of the people who filed complaints are even alive today speaks for itself. The safety systems did their job. Anyone that seriously expects accidents to be a pleasurable experience involving a series of soft pillows at the slightest bump should probably find another means of transportation. A lot of these people will probably never truly appreciate that they even had the privilege of getting a second chance at life.

2. The details of the accident aren't clear in any of the reports. You can write as many he-said/she-said arguments all you want, but every human being tends to exaggerate traumatizing moments to some degree. We don't know what types of forces were involved and how these accidents actually took place. Just because the airbags didn't deploy doesn't necessarily mean they were faulty. Structural design and seat belts do most of the work in an accident.

3. EVERY car that is ever built with airbags has airbag sensor "blind zones". For example if you crash head-on right into a very narrow pole, your airbags will fail to deploy because neither of the two front sensors will detect enough force on either side. The chances of getting involved in such a perfectly centered straight-on accident is astronomical. A direct perpendicular collision to the front fenders, roof impacts, and rear-end collisions are all designed not to deploy airbags also.

The simple truth is that a lot of people are uneducated about how airbags work. The safety systems in modern cars are smarter than most people think. If any of these reports actually included family members of deceased drivers, then yes they might have some argument there. You can see for yourself that's not the case. If you walk away alive from any accident, with or without airbags, then the car did its job to save your life. End of story.

It's a shame car companies have to put up with such BS lawsuits and get punished for designing cars that saved these ungrateful survivors. It's the very definition of irony. I think everyone should just accept that the threat of death will always be elevated when you step behind the wheel of a car. It's just a fact of life that won't magically disappear no matter how many lawsuits you throw at it.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:08 AM   #3
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Thank you for the explanation. Though I was aware that airbags are not fun. My step
brother was in an accident, hit his explorer against a parked semi chassis doing donuts and his face was pretty messed up. The lawsuit was from injuries resulting from low-speed airbag deployment, for the record-- the person went blind in one eye.

But if you don't mind explaining further, if a roll-over crash (who cares how many times it rolled, let's assume this guy's story is real) doesn't cause deployment, what does? Cabin intrusion? How do the sensors work?

I'm not saying these complaints are 100% factual. But to me it's cause for concern since I've never heard of this before and I came here for an interpretation. I just find it a little hard to believe that any sort of violent crash wouldn't deploy airbags, simply because of spinal injuries from the head experiencing jerk forces. I used to work private ambulance... while I didn't get trauma calls on that job I did have to go to school and get all the training for them. Statistically the most fatal crashes are rollovers and ejections from the vehicle. If that guy rolled his car, a seatbelt isn't keeping his head from hitting the window. So I'm asking why that is. Though I indeed have no knowledge of how airbags work.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:29 AM   #4
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Well said, Moose.

The only thing I have to add, Alex is that side airbags should probably deploy in a roll-over accident. Your wheel and front passenger bags would most likely not deploy unless there was some significant secondary impact to the front. In my work as a damage appraiser, I've only seen a very few cases where I thought the airbags should have deployed, but didn't, or visa-versa.

In that case of the '09 Focus rollover, was it equipped with side airbags? If not, then I would say nothing unusual there. If it did, maybe.
That's up to the engineers and accident investigators.....

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Old 03-17-2011, 02:32 AM   #5
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I have been in 2 serious accidents in the past few years. One was as a driver and my car T-boned another car at 30MPH. The vehicle's airbags both went off but the seatbelts holding taut were what allowed me and my passenger to walk out of the vehicle. That airbag deployment left a nice abrasion on my left arm. The second one was as a passenger in a rollover at 60MPH+ and it was a vehicle with only front airbags (they obviously didn't deploy). A combination of the form of the seats and especially the seatbelts holding taut allowed me and the driver to walk out of the vehicle, myself with merely minor cuts and abrasions. Side airbags would have been near worthless since the vehicle rolled more than once and the car's computer would have had to determine exactly when to deploy each airbag for that first roll. As mentioned by mmmoose, airbags are simply supplemental. In both my accidents it was the seatbelts that saved my life. Either accident could have easily killed me if I had no seatbelt, and in the case of the front-impact, the airbag itself could have seriously hurt me. I'd worry far more if those reports were of the seatbelts failing.
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Old 03-17-2011, 06:05 AM   #6
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Side airbags aren't 100% necessary in rollover accidents. I know it sounds crazy, but what keeps you safely tucked inside the car is the seat belt itself. The overall strength of the chassis and the roof is far more important than any sort of side cabin intrusion.

It's hard to describe... I guess you have to think of it as a sort of safety cage. When a vehicle rolls around from a side skid, you have to picture the car getting pummeled with blunt force on the outer edges as it's spinning around quickly. There is no sharp, direct force being applied straight into the side doors.

The thing that injures/kills most people in side collisions isn't the head hitting the side window glass, but rather the hood of the vehicle that intrudes into the cabin through that side window. The B-pillar and rocker panel area usually collapses inward towards the cabin with that sort of accident, which is why the airbag needs to deploy.

In severe cases where the rollover accident is great enough to bend the B-pillar and rocker panel area of the car, yes the sensors will most likely go ahead and deploy the side airbags as designed. But most modern cars are designed to withstand a few tumbles before the safety cage starts to give up in those areas.
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Old 03-17-2011, 12:28 PM   #7
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Very informative. Thanks guys
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