Who’s to Blame When Air Bags Don’t Save Lives?

By Eric Peters, Automotive Columnist

Toyota just announced a recall of more than 650,000 cars — for potential problems with the air bags.

“Improperly manufactured propellant wafers could cause the inflator to rupture and the front passenger airbag to deploy abnormally in the event of a crash,” the company said in a statement.

Now, the relevant question to ask here is not whether Toyota is guilty of endangering the buying public — and what to do about it.

It is how come the government gets to endanger the buying public? And what do we do about that?


If air bags were not mandatory, people could weigh the potential risks against the claimed benefits — and come to a decision they were comfortable with. In exactly the same way people consider whether to sky dive, or any other such thing that entails both risk and reward. If something goes awry, they at least can take comfort in the fact that no one forced them to do “x.”

Certainly, Toyota is culpable for selling an apparently defective part in its cars. But at least, no one was forced to buy a Toyota car.

On the other hand, everyone who buys a new car is forced to buy an air bag — and thus, forced to assume all the risks, both actual and theoretical.

While the pro air bag crowd can point to “lives saved” — which is true enough — people like me (weirdos who believe in adults deciding things for themselves) can point with just as much truth behind us to the deaths and injuries air bags have caused.

Whether air bags have saved more lives than have been lost is not the issue. Even if they have, there is an effrontery that boggles a sane mind when it comes across another person asserting his authority to presume to make life and death choices for another human being — at gunpoint, never forget.

I realize I harp on the “at gunpoint” qualifier. But it’s necessary — critically necessary — to not permit these creatures who would control us to soft-sell the violence that underlies everything they do.

And, the hypocrisy.

You’ve no doubt heard the bleat — If it saves even one life! — as the justification for forcibly imposing “x” (or not allowing “y”).

Why is this bleat never applied when lives are not saved as a result of these violent interpositions? When a life would have been saved absent the violent interposition?


The ugly truth is that the people killed (and maimed) by air bags don’t matter to the control freaks. To them, these deaths are incidentals, the cost of doing business.

It’s DSM psychopathy.

How would you feel if you had forced another person to do something and it directly led to that person’s death or mauling? Would you ever presume to make such a choice for someone else, knowing that choice might result in that person’s death or injury?

No, of course not. Because you — like most people — are not a psychopath.

Normal people feel extremely uneasy at the prospect of making life or death decisions for others. But the two-legged things that issue regulatory decrees are not normal people. They don’t feel anxiety or angst — much less regret — over what they do to other people. It’s all in the “public interest” — as defined by them. If it ends costing the lives of some of the public, oh well.

Stalin once reportedly said: “A single death is a tragedy. A million deaths, a statistic.” This is the sort of mentality we’re dealing with. It’s not on the mass-murder level. Yet. But the attitude is exactly the same.

We’ll decide; you’ll obey.

Or else.

If there are negative outcomes, it will be your problem; all for the greater good.

This attitude now suffuses American society — and has become glib, commonplace. It’s routine for politicians of either party (Team Red and Team Blue) to cavalierly banter about the disposition of other people’s lives, as if this were perfectly reasonable.

I say it’s time to put an end to this disgusting routinization of playing with other people’s lives. No one has the right to do it. Whether you believe air bags — or whatever it happens to be — pose an “acceptable risk” is entirely beside the point.

The point is, it’s not up to you to make that calculation for anyone other than yourself.

Your job — your obligation — is to mind your own business and leave others free to mind theirs.



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6 Responses to “Who’s to Blame When Air Bags Don’t Save Lives?”

  1. Spike Roberson says:

    Unfortunately we seem to be well beyond the point in American society where weight reasonably debate the right of the government to protect us from ourselves and otherwise decide for us what is good for us. We gave up such quaint notions of Freedom long ago as a people, and the sheep that comprise most of our population seem quite satisfied with the outcome.

    • danny says:

      Seatbelt laws cross the line between what is acceptable and what is not in free society. Seatbelt laws assert the right of government to interfere in your private life. Seatbelt laws establish the principle of the "victimless crime"; that is, to punish you even though you have done no harm. Seatbelt laws set a dangerous precedent. If government has a right to force you to wear a seatbelt, then government has the right to tell you what to wear, what to eat, when to get up, when to go to bed, what you may do or not do for recreation, in short, to take away all your rights as an adult. It says that the people are children and that government is their parent. That was the nightmare envisaged by George Orwell in his novel, "1984".
      Governments never use such rights in a benevolent way. Such rights are always abused. Under the cynical and hypocritical pretext of only being concerned about your welfare, such laws are used as a pretext for the police to stop you, harass you and rip you off. They open the door to the police state.
      Even if seatbelts were of some benefit, no sane person would use them voluntarily. The chance of a safe driver being killed in an automobile accident is less than one in a billion vehicle miles. Sane people act on the basis of probability, not possibility. A person who wears a seatbelt voluntarily is a mentally ill person who suffers from anxiety neurosis. Life is full of danger. We might get hit by a truck when we cross the street; we might get shot in a hold-up when we go to the bank; we might get hit by lightning when we go outside. But sane people do not normally wear bullet proof vests or carry lightning rods.
      Bullet proof vests and lightning rods are known to be beneficial. The same cannot be said of seatbelts. Seatbelts are, in fact, of no benefit but rather increase the chance of being killed or injured in an automobile accident. This has been shown by extensive research which has been published at http://www.safetychoice.org and http://www.fiberpipe.net/~tiktin. Seatbelts laws and seatbelt propaganda are a cynical scam designed to sell seatbelts and give the police an excuse to stop people, harass them and rip them off. The details of how the government does this are also to be found at the above mentioned web-sites with documention from the government's own files.
      While the patriot act is undoubtedly a danger to our safety and liberty in the long run, not many people have as yet been victimized by the patriot act. It is through the seatbelt laws that the largest numbers of Americans are victimized by their government. It is the seatbelt laws which represent the most immediate source of danger to our liberty and our safety. It is the seatbelt laws which have set the precedent for other Orwellian laws such as motorcycle helmet laws, bicycle helmet laws, "personal flotation device" laws and on and on. Because government has gotten away with the seatbelt scam, new Orwellian laws are constantly being introduced in our state and federal legislatures. Unless we can get these laws repealed we can kiss our liberty goodbye.
      Visit http://www.safetychoice.org or http://www.fiberpipe.net/~tiktin to educate yourself on this issue. We must get 23 USC 153, 157, 402, 405 and 406 repealed if we are to preserve our liberty. The hour is late. Already a huge organization is in place, run by NHTSA and funded by hundreds of millions of dollars of tax payer money, to spread lying propaganda about seatbelts and to pressure and pay state police to use threats, harassment and intimidation to force people to use these dangerous devices. Numerous phony front organizations are being used, maskerading as independent organizations but in fact funded and controlled by NHTSA. These organizations lobby, pressure and bribe state legislatures to pass ever more draconian seatbelt laws, using millions of dollars of federal funds, as does NHTSA itself. Public relations firms, such as Campaigns on Demand, Inc. and Media Strategies, Inc. are hired with millions of dollars of tax payer money to run campaigns of lying propaganda. There are dozens of phony web sites, fake letter writing campaigns pretending to be from ordinary citizens, in short, every dirty trick in the book is being used to promote this scam, at taxpayer expense.
      But of course all this is just the opening wedge. It set the stage for the airbag scam, the helmet laws, the "personal flotation device" laws, the "safety inspections" without warrant or probable cause. It set the stage for the patriot act.

  2. BJ says:

    I do not allow my wife to drive my car with airbags because she will likely be injured or killed if they deploy. She is way too small(childlike) for an airbag to help her.
    I have heard that it is possible to legally have an airbag de-activated and I'd really like to learn how that can be done if any readers out there can head me in the right direction. Thank You and my wife thanks you!

    • George says:

      The only thing that would illegal would be selling the car with the airbad disabled, AND you also disable the AIR BAG light in the dashboad [instrument panel in marketing speak]
      Take apart the steering wheel hub, and disconnect the airbag. "Problem" solved.

      But depowered airbags have been standard for about 15 years, and adaptive ignitors have been around for over a decade.
      So, maybe it is time to dump that '90s vehicle?

  3. George says:

    Here is the problem.
    Why SRS was mandated, the technology was not advanced enough to operate in a 'sane' manner. Only one deployment output? Not every driver is a 6' tall 180 pound male.
    If they would have implemented a 1/3, 2/3, 3/3 ignitor system, with deployment dependent on driver size/weight. Say 0-120lbs, then 120-240 lbs, and 240+ lbs. The deaths in the early days would likely not occurred.

    Well, the technology has improved with pre-collision systems that use pyrotechnic charges to tighten up the seat belts, and move you into an optimal position before airbag deployment. That in conjunction with force limiters on the belts means that the probability of death from the airbag is effectively nil.

    All of this, and the government hasn't mandated LED brakes lights, hell just the CHMSL alone!
    Allows red turn signals, and single reverse lights, and dual rear fog lights.
    Where is the requirement of dual note horns? That improves redundancy, and more importantly the acoustical awareness, from having interference pattern, and moving node/anti-nodes.
    What about increasing the required legal minimum tread depth on the rear axle. Since EBD is standard, an increase from 2/32" to 3/32" is advisable. (and 4/32" if the rear tires are wider, say Porsche 911, etc.)