Airbags are intended to save lives, but could the conceivable dangers outweigh the promise of safety?
Numerous experienced automotive mechanics, and news sites like the Independent are saying that they could, and many believe that the consumer should be the deciding factor regarding their own vehicle and safety preferences.
Administrators in Hawaii, led by Senator Maile S.L. Shimabukuro, are considering this dilemma and they want to explore the potential benefits that eliminating the airbag requirement from mandatory safety inspections could have.
According to Senator Shimabukuro, a member of the Senate Transportation Committee, people want to decide for themselves whether or not they should take their airbags out if they do not see them as safe.
The Hawaii Administrative Rules would be amended if voters concur; however, the matter is still of course under review. After the internal review, the Department of Transportation would hold public hearings to suggest the amendment. Once the public hearings have been conducted, there will be thirty days to respond.
A mechanic in Hawaii has responded already to Senator Shimabukuro and is insistent that he has seen the dangers of airbags because they do slam people, and he feels torn because he legally has to tell customers that they should install them. He insisted that harmful incidents also occur because of seat belts, and that vehicle owners should get to determine whether or not they want to have them installed.
It would be understandable that people could be hesitant toward having the devices in their vehicles as thousands have experienced nonfatal injuries and over 290 people have died from airbags, the majority from older vehicles.
However, the matter is not entirely black and white, as airbags do significantly lower risks of death or injury. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has shown that airbags reduce the risk of driver fatalities by more than 28%, and passengers in the front seat by more than 29%.
George Nitta, veteran mechanic, argues that if airbags are harmless, why do they kill kids? He explained how a customer of his looked as if she had been ‘slammed in the face with a board’ after an airbag deployed in her face. Nitta recommends for vehicle owners to disable their airbags.
Another major point of concern made by Senator Shimabukuro is that Takata Corporation filed for bankruptcy in 2016 because of defective and bursting airbags that are still present in more than 30,000 vehicles on the road today.
Hawaii has gone so far as to take them to court for concealing the defect in their airbags and demands $10,000 for vehicle owners impacted by the recall in Hawaii. They are the first state to sue the company because of the defects. This lawsuit in particular named Honda Motor a defendant, as they were impacted the greatest by the ongoing Takata airbag recalls.
The companies are attempting to spread awareness of the hazards that the defect could cause, because these events do raise concern in regards to if the devices should be optional.