When Eight Air Bags Aren’t Enough

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They”re running out of places inside new cars to put more air bags  – so now they’re looking at putting them outside the car (news story here).air bags lead

These bags would deploy externally – to cushion the metal-to-metal impact between cars, thereby – so it’s thought – lessening the impact forces ultimately transmitted into the passenger cabin.

Where the inside-the-car air bags would deploy.

Automotive supplier ZF TRW just showcased a prototype system. Another supplier, Autoliv, is working on a bag for inside the door panels, the A pillars and front frame rails. (Autoliv developed the pedestrian-protection air bags now necessary to meet European mandates; the new Volvo V40 has ’em and soon other Volvos will, too.)

Let’s add it all up – because maybe someone ought to.

Most new cars already have at least six air bags on the inside: two up front for the driver and front seat passenger, a pair of side impact bags for them – and another two for the backseat occupants.

Knee air bags are becoming fairly common – making seven.

Curtain air bags, too. That’s eight or nine.

You can see how they’re running out of real estate.air bags 2

Now, a cynic might observe that pushing for outside-the-car air bags will open up more real estate. More sales. More profit. Up front – and down the road. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Unless we’re not given a choice about that.

Which we probably won’t be.

Expect the outside-the-car bags to be mandated.

If not directly, then indirectly – via new federal crash test standards that will be hard to comply with unless the car has outside-the-car air bags.

Probably four of them, at least (for the first and second row, on either side of the car). That brings the total (inside and out) to at least ten air bags for a car that has six inside. A dozen (or more) if the car has curtain/knee bags inside.

It is likely that, on top of that, outside air bags will be needed (mandated) for the front and back of the car as well. Maybe on the roof, too?

So, twelve-fifteen bags, conceivably.     

It could be more.

All of which would be ok, if it’s market-driven.

But – probably – it will be government-driven. With crony capitalist car companies working hand-in-hand with the government, each wetting their beak.

Now, some will say that’s ok because cocooning a car in a Mars Lander-like grape cluster of air bags makes the car – drum roll – safer. Well, fine. True, too. But cost is an object when someone has to pay the bill.

That’s us, by the way.

Shouldn’t we have a say?

A choice?

It’s not objectionable that TRW is working on outside-the-car air bags, or that one or several car companies seem to be interested in adding them to new cars. Provided they’re not being force-fed to us.

Which they will be.mars air bags

Warbling “safety” doesn’t alter the crony capitalist nature of the thing, in that event. It’s just an excuse to separate people from their money. If this were not true, one would need to come up with a convincing explanation for the need to force people to buy the bags.

Force perverts normal market signals; it puts things on the market before they can stand on their own hind legs. It removes the incentive to make whatever it is cost-viable as well as functionally viable.

Electric cars are another example of this.

They are not ready for prime time. They cost way too much to be economically viable as transportation and also have significant functional deficits that make them a very hard sell on those grounds alone. Two strikes against them.

But they’re on the “market” (air quotes for the obvious reason) because of government pressure. Which takes away market pressure to design and build economically and functionally viable electric cars.

Which is why they don”t exist.

Same goes for these ever-sprouting (inflating?) air bags. If they’re mandated – whether by outright befehl or indirectly, by new crash test mandatory minimums that can’t be complied with unless the car has the bags – rest assured they’ll be more expensive than they otherwise would have been. And not as good as they might have been.

Why not, after all?crony capitalism

If you – as a seller of something – know your customers have to buy what you’re selling – what incentive do you have to make it cost less?

Or, make it better?

Crony capitalism benefits the crony capitalists – at our expense. But it also makes us poorer in other ways. We get economic and functional atrocities like $30,000 electric cars that can’t travel more than 70 or so miles without extended periods of recharging. And we get air bags that cost too much, have their own functional/design issues (the early ones were too forceful and actually killed people by design – look into it – while the newer ones are defective by design, hundreds of thousands of them, and potentially as lethal as they are “safe”) that we’re not allowed to say “no, thanks” to.

It’s your safety – and your money. Shouldn’t it be your choice?

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15 COMMENTS

  1. Exactly what new-think physics enables a balloon between unknown masses colliding at unknown velocities and unknown trajectories to do anything except pop under pressure? Air bags within the vehicle are dealing with a finite range of measurable factors, outside is always unknown except in the lab.

    Checker once tried water bladders for bumpers on the NYC taxi fleet to reduce vehicle damage. Frequent low speed collisions popped the pressure corks but the bladders could not be refilled often enough before another “bump” destroyed both the empty bladder and adjacent sheet metal. Winter finally killed that idea, frequent chemical antifreeze refills were more expensive over time than replacing metal bumpers.

  2. Love the clip from ‘Demolition Man’ , there’s also a scene where the dashboard automatically spits out tickets for every minor infraction, like Stallone cursing. That’s probably up next on Uncle’s agenda; who knew that movie was a documentary!

    • Hi Mike,

      It’s weird, isn’t it, how certain movies seem to have been so accurate in their portrayal of the future? Demolition Man captured the “safety” neurosis that defines society today, for example. And Terminator prequeled drones and IA. It’s as though they were getting us ready for what they knew was coming…

      • As “Rowdy” Roddy Piper put it:
        ” ‘They Live’ was a documentary!”

        And we’re not done yet – Elysium sticks in my mind as another example.

        Note that “The time Machine” (H.G. Wells) was also prophetic, and was echoed by Ann Rand (However you spell her name) in “The Comancheros.”

        Also in “V for Vendetta” : Anarchy can be differentiated from Chaos on the grounds that Chaos is the land of “Take-What-You-Want”, while anarchy is the land of “Do-As-You-Please”. We see the people living in the land of “Take-What-You-Want”, and it proceeds to reform to the land of “Do-As-You-Please”. (The movie left off before the transition completed.)

        We need a “Shooter” tale to play out, actually, clean things up that way. Lop the heads off the hydra, until they stop growing back…

  3. With airbags outside the car, what happens when a totally metal prime mover hits the bags? The metal will just slice through the bag. Since the bags inflate by chemical reactions, that means that the bags can now start a fire that would otherwise not happen. Which means, due to the hazardous nature of the outer bags, a Hazmat team would have to attend each accident due to the toxic metals outside the car, which will make it harder to reach people trapped in the car and rescue them.

    And what about the houses that hit by cars in accidents? Do the houses now need airbags to protect people?

    These morons in gov’t need to go because they have long outlived their usefulness. And they need to be lobotomised, otherwise they go elsewhere to practice their insanity. These people make Hitler look like a nice guy.

    • As we keep noting, the POINT is to make it impossible to do what TPTB want proscribed.
      Make it too expensive to own a gun, too onerous to retain ammo, etc.: De Facto gun control.

      Want to limit the transmission of ideas? Block mail, email, electronic conversations, and travel. (TSA, price of gas, price of cars, relative value of dollar, internet as public utility, NSA scanning of emails and recording of conversations, collection / interception / theft of mail, etc.)

      And of course, you can bundle some of these together: Free money = untapped potential. No different from how we do “capacity planning” for computers, if a processor isn’t running at least in the orange (not quite red), it’s under-utilized, and that’s a LOSS to the bean counters. Same with YOUR money – THEY know better how to use it than you do. Because if it’s in the banks or in your pocket, it’s not being USED CORRECTLY….

      Now, if there really WERE a ter’rist threat, the IS-IS City Kill List (over on Daily sheeple) might make sense. (Didn’t read it, the headline is what I’m referencing: Kill list makes no sense to Americans, or such.) If the objective is to scare people, then random, pointless locations makes sense. If the objective is MILITARY, there’s a REASON to hit “Target X.” Say, Cheyenne Mountain. Destroy a chunk of NORAD, or whatever is really there.
      If the Ter’rists wanted to win against us, hitting the WTC was a waste. Ter’ror, sure, but … Seriously? An EMP in D.C. with a dirty bomb, wipe out the PTB, an anarchic state follows the temporary chaos (might last a decade.) PTB annihilated (via rads and food issues and no escape), the rulers decimated, the country comes apart, and the foreigners continue with their lives without much change… France might need an army, say, but… Well, Ok, France has a history, the UK might need a real military. This has to hit the Pentagon too, of course, or the power structure is essentially intact.

      The fact that these people bomb locations of commerce and human gathering indicates they’re not really an enemy. More like a deal with the Devil, that you get to be rich and powerful for as long as you’re useful, and then you get recycled by the next devil’s up and coming. House always wins, Devil always gets his dues: the public get maimed and killed, then constrained by their own demand for “protection.” From my limited military view, if victory is your intent – ter’rist attacks are pointless. Even in an elected society, it’s not affecting those it must affect to create change…

      Note that sniping military personnel or po-leece is NOT ter’rist. Those ARE military targets. Families is a gray area to me, it’s not strictly military, but it is effective. Probably ter’rist in the strict sense, they’re no-combatants, not even supply chain personnel, so – yeah, not military targets. Gov’t officials? Valid. Corporate types is also a gray area, I’d guess it depends on size. E.G., head of GE? Who cares. GE is almost part of the gov’t, like Murdoch’s “news” empire, or Ford motors. They are all in the same camp, all playing the same game, and our names aren’t even connected to our SS numbers. We’re just “human resources” to further their goals. E.G., they know how we should spend our money to build their business….

      The same tactics I’m talking about, the same division of sane and insane, is what you’re talking about.
      Compared to them, Hitler was SANE.

      Because they are ter’rist-attacking US, using proxy weapons of finance to make a gilded cage, where we will tweet for their amusement, until they feed us to their snake… (Corporation, I suppose).

      I wonder (warning!) – maybe the Control Freak nature of Clover, and the concurrent rise of the Clovers, accounts for the concurrent rise in aberrant sexual deviancies? (Specifically thinking Control Freak here.)

      Makes one wonder…. 😉

  4. Of course the car companies have a vested interest in selling vehicles with a dozen air bags. Not only do they get to make more money up front, their buddies at Progressive also get to total otherwise perfectly good cars, thus making people buy new.

  5. Brent kind of stole my thunder, but he hinted at my (probably dumb) question: If you have sufficient and strategically placed airbags on the outside of the car, why do you need them on the inside at all?

  6. I recall seeing a cartoon years ago with air bags all over a car. No way to hit anything without contacting the airbag first. Maybe if we deflated all those airbags in DC………

  7. The first gen airbags weren’t just killers, they were decapitators. I remind my kids that every time they want to ride shotgun in my Roadmaster Estate, one won’t, the other puts the seat as far back as possible.

  8. Airbags should be on the outside of the car, not the inside if they have to be at all.
    But the problem is triggering. They’ll probably trigger when someone gets close which mean every near miss costs money. Or turns near misses into crashes (Newtonian physics means there’s going to be some sort of force the driver has to compensate for during an emergency maneuver) . Odds are they will also not be designed to prevent body damage and will likely cause it.

    Case in point. Last night in the snow a pizza delivery driver has to be a got-damned hurry. So fine, pass me on the left if he can manage. I am holding to the PSL when he is passing me in a curve and starts drifting into my lane. About six inches from me I sound the horn and he corrects. Outside airbags have to deploy at what distance to function? Then they deploy and push off the other car…. great… pushed right off the road into a crash.

    Now air bags that deploy inside the panels can be interesting. Those could save the car from serious body damage. Instant solid support for the sheet steel. If designed that way those could be worth the money. Instead of a totaled car replace the bag and do a little body work or not. The car would still be fine to drive. Of course they won’t be designed that way. They’ll probably instead just destroy everything in their path.

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