Airbags have gained such a reputation as an important device for vehicular safety that they aren’t considered optional devices anymore. Everybody wants them in their vehicles as an added measure of safety against accidents on the road.

However, not all airbags are built alike. In fact, some may actually be downright dangerous to your health.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that gas-filled airbags, commonly called “first-generation” models, were overwhelmingly more likely to save someone in a car accident than kill someone — but unnecessary deaths still happened. The force of the airbag’s combustion, among other things, could be lethal.

Safety reforms and innovations with airbags started with a flash of news stories about the potential dangers of airbags in the 1990s. Manufacturers responded by redesigning airbags to use less force. They also developed systems of sensors that change the way that an airbag deploys, depending on who is in the front seat of a vehicle.

The most advanced airbags have now been modified to deploy even if an accident is relatively mild in order to protect drivers and front-seat passengers who have neglected to buckle up.

Unfortunately, if you drive an older model car — especially any built before the early 2000s — you’re probably driving around with an airbag that’s far less safe than you think it is. It may even have the possibility of being lethal all on its own to children or people of small stature. The closer you have your seat pulled toward the wheel or dashboard (a necessity for short drivers), the more likely you could be killed by your own airbag.

Since the NHTSA has never recalled older model cars for mandatory refitting, consumers are pretty much on their own when it comes to deciding how to handle the issue. Having the airbags replaced is an option if you want to keep the car. If you can afford it, however, it might be time to splurge on a newer, safer vehicle altogether. The expense of a new car is far less costly than a fatal car accident. Consult with a South Carolina car accident attorney to find out more.

Source:, “The Hidden Dangers of Older Airbags,” Micah Wright, accessed Feb. 23, 2018