Do seatbelts save lives?

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Asguard, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    The annoying buzzer that keeps going until the seat belt is clicked into place pretty much does the job for me. Of course, I remember my dad actually cut out all the seatbelts and stuck the male parts into the female parts to keep the buzzer from going off. So the buzzer can be counter productive.
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  3. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

    I don't believe that. I don't believe every seat belt in the vehicle jammed and that is why they died
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  5. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    That argument has several problems never, to my knowledge, officially and publicly considered:

    1) The actual cost breakdown is not obvious. Allow me to quote a neurosurgeon then (early 80s) practicing in Chicago, personal communication, when my friend (a fellow doctor, GP) asked him why he hated motorcycle helmets: "Because they live". They don't live for cheap.

    2) The cost of medical care in the vastly overpriced and inexcusably malfunctioning medical care setup currently afflicting the US should not be used as a justification for anything.

    3) That argument would justify all manner of laws contrary to sound government and common sense. If you have no better argument, it's invalid as it stands.
    OK- not every crash. If the windows are open, the car has no children or elderly or short people in it, everyone is wearing their seat belt properly and not holding anything in front of their face (such as a coffee cup, or their hands), the driver is gripping the steering wheel as recommended by the air bag designers at the moment of detonation (and not, say, trying to turn quickly), and the air bag system works more or less perfectly, people can escape an air bag detonation without injury.

    For someone like me, who essentially always belts up, the extra protection of an air bag is negligable. The extra risk is considerable. The extra cost and hassle is ridiculous.
    They will never get them right as long as whatever they come up with is mandatory and non-negotiable. Theyve had fifty years to get them right, and they are still pieces of crap. And they are the reason good seat belts are not easily and conveniently available, as stock or ordinary aftermarket.
    All that extra wiring for motors and buzzers and whatnot can also, in an old car subjected to road salt etc, create various problems with doors and lights, and can even short somewhere and drain the battery - leaving the protected person walking from their dead car down the highway to the nearest expensive help, in the winter with no shoulder, at three in the morning.

    Not that I'm bitter, mind you.

    But among my musician acquaintances the kind of hand and eardrum damage so commonly attending airbag deployments is a concern - they get low-speed rearended at a stoplight, with a coffee cup in one hand and the other resting on the top of the wheel, the windows closed in a small car, and they could be months recovering if ever. And if they are short - five foot two and under is "short" in this context - things get even hairier.
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  7. Repo Man Valued Senior Member

    My crash seems to have met all of the above conditions. My work truck was smacked in the front by a car going about sixty MPH. He ran a red light on the highway as I was crossing the intersection, and came at me from the left side. He took the front of my truck with him as he passed. The front of my truck ended up pointing about sixty degrees to the right of where it had been prior to impact.

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    Seatbelt and airbag protected me, and I was completely unharmed. I wasn't even sore the next day

    From what I've read, one of the problems with airbag designs has been the insistence of the DOT (or possibly the NHTSA) that they be designed to protect drivers and passengers who are not wearing their seat belt. To try and protect the unbelted, the engineers had to have a quicker (and therefore more explosive and violent) deployment of the bag. They are supposed to be a supplemental system, hence the acronym S.R.S.

    A full harness is about as safe as you can get, and I'd wear one with no hesitation. But it's like pulling teeth to get the great unwashed out there to wear standard shoulder belts. A full harness would never fly.

    My good friend's lovely twenty three year old daughter died last fall in a crash where she was ejected from her Toyota 4Runner. There's no way to know for sure if she would have lived if she had been belted in, but she would have at least had a chance.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  8. shorty_37 Go! Canada Go! Registered Senior Member

    My friend and I were just reminiscing about our childhoods the other night on the porch.
    We both brought up our family road trips. We drove across Canada in our Big Station Wagon at the time. My mom made cushions for the back and me and my brother would go back there and sleep, or just lay down and read or something. When we were in our actual seats we rarely stayed buckled in. My friend had almost the same story and it was pretty funny. She said her dad never wanted to stop and her mom would pass them the piss pot and her 3 brothers would take a piss in it and then she would throw it out the window. She said the back windows looked like they were going through a car wash. LOL Then to make matters worse she did it on a country dirt road and then all the dirt/dust stuck to the windows and they couldn't see out.


    They also never wore seat belts and she said she doesn't even think the car had all the seat belts. They used to roll around in the back of their station wagon while driving all over the place too.

    I said to her can you imagine someone doing that now.....

    My kids always wear their seat belts in the car and so do I. I do however think they have gone a little overboard with their new rules and regulations which basically are trying to keep kids in a booster seat until they are almost in high school...:bugeye:
    Personally I think it is just money making BS. Also all the warnings about don't use the same car seat if it is over 5 yrs old... Why exactly?
    If you have a carseat that is in great condition and then you have another kid, why buy a new one. I think they just want people to keep replacing them so they make more money.
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2009
  9. Dr Mabuse Percipient Thaumaturgist Registered Senior Member

    Yes eat belts save lives.

    Laws forcing them to be worn are unconstitutional, but the law nonetheless.
  10. codanblad a love of bridges Registered Senior Member

    repo man, it looks like a giant tried to shove a massive piece of rubbish into the front of your car without even opening the bonnet. inconsiderate AND littering. but seriously thats nuts. you should probably take better care of your car.
  11. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    mad you could get around that (ie run a very small wire through the belt so that if its cut it doesnt form a circut) of course this means aditional risk from the current but *shrug*

    as for airbags the ones in australian cars do seem to work quite safely because they are designed to work WITH a seatbelt here because of manditory seatbelt laws. curtan bags to protect the head and c spine from side impacts are good but do make extractions harder.

    of course the problem is when airbags DONT deploy during the crash and take out the ambos trying to treat the people
  12. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    They used that system in domestic Japanese cars in the 1970s and Japanese people told me they found a way around it. They found a way to suspend their bodies in the air while the starter was activated. I doubt that the rest of us are flexible enough to do it.

    I think they'll eventually come up with a multi-point cage that settles down and conforms to your body shape.

    A friend of mine with a twelve-year-old child told me that in the U.S. it's now illegal to let a child younger than 13 sit with you in the front of the car, because the air bag could kill him. Things are just turning to shit in this country!
  13. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Really? You have some data on this? Say, figures comparing accidents before and after widespread airbag use, and statistics of injuries associated with airbags?
  14. codanblad a love of bridges Registered Senior Member

    yeah! when they start taking away your right to possibly kill 12 year olds, what's next to go? how will the future presidents of America reach their potential when they couldn't ride shotgun til 13?
  15. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You have to correct all those stats for seat belt usage. The comparison you want is of two evaluations: {seat belt correctly employed, no airbag} and {seat belt correctly employed, airbag}, in similar crashes involving similar vehicles. You need an actual count and injury ranking - you can't use statistical manipulations involving percentages of accidents with unbelted drivers and the like, because accidents are not evenly distributed in kind or circumstance among various types of car, driver, time, or place, and the injuries from bag and bagless crashes are not the same ( hearing loss and eardrum damage, for example, is often not even counted as a crash injury in official reports).

    From that total gain, if any, subtract the deaths and severe injuries caused by the bags themselves to others, such as paramedics and manufacturing workers and (a sleeping problem) demolition or landfill encounters (the undetonated chemical explosive used in airbags is extremely poisonous when wet). You might even think of including such side effects as children forgotten in hot cars by accident - belted into the back seats out of range of the airbag, instead of in the front seat where forgetting them would be much less likely.

    And good luck getting that data.

    Meanwhile, keep in mind that the seat belts are poorly designed - compare them with an Indy car's setup,where real comfort and safety are paramount concerns. They are poorly designed in order to allow them to be "passive" or automatic, and in order to sell them to people who hate the idea of them and want an illusion of comfort or convenience - like one of those big soft chairs that are ungodly uncomfortable in actual use. So even a direct comparison is not really fair to the point.

    Another factor: the peculiar injuries of airbag detonations and seat belt usage vary in their significance by personal circumstance - musicians, for example, have a much different attitude toward "temporary" hearing loss or hand injury than other people, while people with certain health problems or physical oddities suffer much more from the inconvenience of belting up than regular folks.
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2009
  16. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Whilst you have clearly put some thought into this, I'm sure you'll excuse me ignoring it due to argument by personal belief (and perhaps experience) rather than science.

    You see my experience based upon accidents involving at least 2 people I know is that in one instance they wouldn't have been able to walk away without airbags, and the other the airbag certainly saved them from worse injuries given it was a head on collision at closing speed of 60mph upwards. Although the crushed bits of car did damage their foot so they had to spend time in hospital. Oh yes and the peopel who crashed into my parents driveway at probably 80mph, demolishing 2 cars. They all survived, even though IIRC one hadn't been wearing a seatblet. In this case the impact was slowed by the cars already in the drive, thus it was not as bad as running into a wall.

    Other than that I've never heard of any problems with air bags. A quick check finds actual scientific papers:

    Finally, wikipedia claims:
    "In 1990, the first automotive fatality attributed to an airbag was reported,[29] with deaths peaking in 1997 at 53 in the United States.[citation needed] TRW produced the first gas-inflated airbag in 1994, with sensors and low-inflation-force bags becoming common soon afterwards. Dual-depth (also known as dual-stage) airbags appeared on passenger cars in 1998. By 2005, deaths related to airbags had declined, with no adult deaths and two child deaths attributed to airbags that year. Injuries remain fairly common in accidents with an airbag deployment."
    "From 1990 to 2008, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration identified 175 fatalities as because of air bags. Most of these (104) have been children, while the rest are adults. About 3.3 million air bag deployments have occurred and the agency estimates more than 6,377 lives saved and countless injuries prevented.[29]"

    So it seems to me that your prejudice is out of date.
  17. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    None of your information has anything to do with my "prejudice". I detailed the kind of info you would need to address my admittedly personal and subjective - but reasoned, from common experience - opinion, and you have not begun to discover it.

    That is not your fault: the information is difficult to uncover, since in spite of its absolute necessity in evaluating the benefits of mandatory airbags and "passive" seat belts (in everyone's car regardless of their personal circumstances) no one seems to be compiling the necessary data or conducting the necessary analyses.

    This, for example, is a perfect example of what I am objecting to, as deceptive and borderline meaningless:
    The agency estimates do not correct for seat belt usage patterns, seat belt inadequacy from "passive" setups, side effects and underestimated injuries as I partially alluded to, and so forth.
  18. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    iceaura, Monash uni's crash unit carries very good statistics on acidents in australia (mostly fatal ones but not always) including the safty devices used during the crash (ie did the car have airbags, did they deploy, did the car have ABS, were the passangers and driver wearing seatbelts)
  19. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    Good at least we agree on something.

    Have you ever considered that such information is very hard to gather? Apart from sorting out patient confidentiality, how many people actually remember precisely what they were doing before the crash. And anyway, I'm afraid I don't see why you need to know as much as you claim. Its like AGW deniers, always after more information so they can't see the woods for the trees.
  20. guthrie paradox generator Registered Senior Member

    But just for you I carried out a search on google scholar, which aside from the patents, found over 100 papers on the topic.!713060492!181195629!8091!-1

    For a selection. UNfortunately others were paywalled.
    The general consensus being that air bags save lives, airbags and seat belts save most lives and have least injuries, and that airbags can injure people, but hey its better being alive than dead.
  21. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    guthrie try the TAC and monash uni's crash unit
  22. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    I not only considered it, I insisted on you paying attention to that fact. It puts all the safety conclusions regarding air bags instantly in doubt.
    And the general fact is that no thorough comparison is made between current design seat belts properly used without air bags and seat belts plus air bags even, let alone a solid comparison with a world of good seat belts properly used and the world of air bags we have.

    They don't even count the air bag injuries accurately. Try finding an estimate of long term hearing loss, for example.

    Nor are the special hazards of air bags to some people - who unlike those put at special hazard from seat belts cannot always avoid the things - considered.

    In cars where actual safety and comfort are a priority - such as Indy race cars - air bags are not installed. "Passive" seat belts are not installed. Good seat belts are installed. There are reasons for that, and they are not economic reasons.

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