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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Is it Illegal to Drive Without Airbags?

Updated: Feb 23, 2022

According to the National Safety Council, the number of people who died in any vehicle accident in 2020 is considered the highest in the U.S. in 13 years.

Based on their data, car accident-related deaths have increased up to 24% since 2019. That’s massive.

In Iowa, traffic fatalities are skyrocketing, according to safety officials.

For example, in the first quarter of 2021, more than 119 people died in vehicle-related crashes and collisions. Iowa Department of Transportation said that it’s a 25% increase from 2019.

May 2021 is considered the deadliest month in the past nine years, as 41 deaths were reported.

This is the reason why modern and new cars are developed with airbags.

How do airbags work?

What are Airbags and How Do They Work?

Curtain airbags have been around since the mid-1970s. Despite that, some people are still confused about what airbags are.

Well, they are safety equipment like seat belts in motor vehicles. Before, they were available in a limited style and design. Today everything has changed. They now come with side airbags and front airbags, designed to open in a moderate crash or serious collision.

How do passenger airbags or front airbags work, however? A driver may think this safety equipment is filled with air. But it is not in reality. They have chemical explosives, making them super effective.

Airbags deploy when a vehicle loses its normal speed quickly. The entire system is equipped with an electronic chip responsible for detecting the sudden change in speed.

This triggers the circuit to send an electric current through a heating element. Then, this results in the ignition of a chemical explosive, generating harmless gas.

Originally, airbags were deployed and installed in the steering wheel. With technology development, manufacturers have finally added an airbag in other crucial locations like the passenger seat aside from the driver side.

Since 2000, today’s vehicles have at least ten types of airbags. Curtain airbags are one of them.

What Makes an Airbag an Important Vehicle Accessory?

An airbag is an essential must-have accessory in every vehicle, including new cars. But have you ever wondered what makes it as extremely important as seat belts? Below are some reasons. Take a close look at the following:

Provide Cushion Between the Windshield and the Occupant

During a crash or collision, the driver and passenger are more likely to smash into the vehicle’s interior even if seatbelts are worn.

While one’s body is protected because of the seat belts, how about the head? Since it is not restrained, your head may smash to the windshield or the steering wheel.

This is where an airbag can come to the rescue.

Even if you encounter a severe accident on the road, working airbags can help minimize the impact and protect you from a terrible accident and any sharp object, saving lives.

Reduce Driver and Passenger Fatalities by 29%

A vehicle collision or crash has been rampant in Iowa and other parts of the U.S. this 2021.

The rate of vehicle or car-related deaths has increased in great numbers, which is already alarming.

Like seat belts, front airbags effectively reduce occupants and driver fatalities by around 29%, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said.

But do not be contented with a front airbag in the steering wheel. It is a smart idea to invest in a knee airbag to minimize lower limb injuries.

On the passenger side, an airbag, aside from the seat belts, can prevent neck, head, and spine injuries.

The typical neck injury the driver and passengers suffer from is a whiplash, commonly caused by a rear-end vehicle accident. Sometimes, whiplash can result from traumas or physical abuse leading to injury claims.

Any head injury is another problem that requires immediate medical attention after side collisions. Head traumas may include concussion, contusion, penetration, diffuse axonal, and coup-contrecoup and can also lead to accident claims.

Available at a Reasonable Rate

If you were in a vehicle crash or collision and have used your deployed airbags, do not leave your car without airbags for your convenience. Have your car checked first before anything else.

How much does a fully operational airbag replacement cost, though? Well, it may range from $1,000 to $1,750.

But it still depends on multiple factors. The number of airbag replacements is on top of the list. Of course, you will spend more money when you have more airbags reinstalled.

The brand of your choice is another factor that can increase the price of the airbags. If you buy from a trusted and sought-after manufacturer, expect to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars at the end of the day.

It’s all right. What matters the most is that you protect yourself and other passengers from any risk.

There is nothing to worry about if you are on a budget as you can find an airbag that won’t cost you a large fortune. But when you do your homework patiently, everything will be possible.

What are the State and Federal Laws on Driving with No Airbag?

Is it illegal to drive a car without an airbag? Does this violate any legal policies?

Currently, no state and federal laws state that it is illegal to drive a car and any motor vehicle with no airbag, which is similar to driving with a hitch and driving with one arm in a sling.

But it is not recommended to drive a car without this safety equipment.

Although there is no specific regulation saying it is not legal to drive without airbags, it is not permitted to change or get rid of them in different motor vehicles.

In the 1990s, manufacturers still provided vehicles without airbags. But things changed in 1999 when airbags were considered a standard safety feature. From then on, the regulations about this safety equipment have been updated.

Does the Absence of Airbags Affect Your Insurance Premium?

An airbag is recognized as one of the vehicle’s safety features for a reason.

Suppose modern cars without an airbag can affect your insurance premium as your risk increases.

Your airbag is used or not working according to the industry’s highest standards. In that case, you should replace it before looking for an insurance company with a trustworthy repair shop.

Airbag installation on the passenger side of the steering wheel does not need to be a DIY project. It is always best to leave the job to a trusted repair shop or a licensed technician.

Once everything is ready, you can submit all the necessary documents for your application. But be careful when searching for insurance companies.

Since there are several insurance companies to choose from, you can ask your friends for some referrals.

Always entrust your specific needs to a competent insurance company!

Do airbags pose safety risks?

Do Airbags Pose Safety Risks?

Airbags in locations like a steering wheel can protect you from severe injuries during a collision. But they can also be dangerous.

For airbags to be effective, they need to work fast.

After a collision, the airbag is inflated within 1/20th of a second. Yes, airbags deploy as quickly as you imagine.

Even if that sounds good, quick airbag deployment can cause injuries, especially to those vehicle occupants who are too close to the airbag.

Occupants may experience hearing loss or an eye injury.

But this is only common in older airbags. Today, the modern airbag is well-engineered to deploy with less force, helping the daily driver and other occupants protect themselves from more harm.

Is an Airbag Dangerous to Children?

It is. Experts say children are in more danger during airbag deployment. When airbags are deployed in a steering wheel, young kids in cars and other vehicles might be suffocated.

What to do then? Instead of letting your children sit near the driver’s side, the back seat is preferred and safer.

This regulation covered children under thirteen years of age, which has started in 1993. Even if your children insist on sitting in the front seat, never let them. They should always sit in the back seat to avoid any legal problems in the future. Plus, always remind them to wear seat belts.

Frequently Asked and Other Related Questions

Why should you rely on a licensed technician when replacing a deployed airbag?

It is complex to replace a deployed airbag. But you do not need to deal with it yourself. There are certified and experienced technicians whom you can depend on and trust. Apart from the knowledge, technicians can replace your deployed airbags within a short time because they have a complete and innovative set of tools.

What are common airbag defects to expect?

There are many possible defects with this vehicle safety feature/car’s function during airbag deployment.

Sometimes, an airbag deploys even if there is no collision at all. That could be a disappointment.

Imagine you are going to the office and the airbag deploys. It is extremely inconvenient and frustrating.

Another problem with this vehicle function is that the airbag may deploy violently, leading to serious injuries.

Does an airbag have air?

As the name implies, people may think that an airbag is filled with air. But it is not like that.

A chemical reaction inflates the airbag. In a crash or collision, its electronic chip detects the change in the vehicle speed. This chemical reaction generates a non-toxic gas.

How long does an airbag last?

When a bag deploys, you have to replace it right away. What if you never get into a vehicle-related accident for ten or more years? Is your airbag still usable? It is best to have the airbag checked. If it is not in good condition, it is the perfect time to replace the bag.

What are some factors to consider when looking for an airbag?

When you replace your airbag, make sure it comes from a reputable manufacturer. If it is your first time, you probably do not have any idea where to start. You can visit a repair shop for more details. Replacing an airbag does not need to be stressful.

How to stay safe while driving and reduce the risks of vehicle collision?

Wearing seatbelts is one of the ways to stay safe when you drive a car. However, some forget to put their seat belts on because they are in a hurry. Do not do the same thing to avoid collisions on the road. You also have to be alert and make sure to read signage in the street.

Is an airbag prone to wear and tear just like the vehicle?

This is another question people commonly ask. Luckily, an airbag is not prone to the elements because it is sealed. Even when not in use for many years, an airbag is long-lasting.

Why should you use curtain airbags?

Curtain airbags can also keep drivers and passengers safe. It immediately activates during a side-impact collision, providing enough cushion to protect the head when the car rolls over. Similar to the standard airbag, cars are available with curtain airbags.

Is your airbag already deployed, and do you need a new one? Do not drive any car without an airbag.

Look for a competent technician to get the job done. While hiring a technician may require additional costs, do not be tempted to take advantage of someone that provides the cheapest services. You should be willing to spend more.

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