Reader Rant: Defeating Air Bags

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Here’s the latest reader rant, along with my reply!

BeetleBob writes: fyi,  you can disarm the air bag by pulling the fuse that provide the electricity to run it.  Look in the owner manual for the “SRS” or “airbag” circuit and pull the fuse. My 34 year old brat has been afraid of air bags for what ever reason since he started driving. The air bag in every car he owns is disconnected.

Air bags are a “supplemental restraint system,” or a back up system for non-clever people who forget to  engage the seat belt. Or those who chose to not use the seat belt. Working in the dealer auto parts business,  back in the 80s,  it would take 7-10 working days to get an Acura airbag from warehouse 10 in California, to Miami florida. UPS ground ship only.    Airbags cannot be shipped via air freight.  Their freight classification is “cartridge powder device”  and explosive. ZoomZoom.

My reply: Yes, it is possible to disable an air bag that way, but there are potentially at least two issues, the first being that the “SRS” or “airbag” warning light will come on and – if you live in a state that requires saaaaaaaaaafety inspection passage to get/renew registration, the airbags must be intact and functional, or appear to be. The inspector is supposed to check to see whether the light comes on at initial start-up and then goes off after a moment, indicating the system is on and working. If the light remains on (like the “check engine” OBD light) then the car will fail inspection.

The second potential issue is other systems on the same circuit – assuming the SRS isn’t on a dedicated circuit. If it is not and the fuse is pulled, then whatever else is on that circuit goes off as well.

You write about “non-clever” people who don’t wear seat belts. I am one such – and so far it hasn’t caused me the least bit of harm, after decades of driving without “buckling up.” I rely for my saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety on being attentive to my driving – as well as that of others. It has stood me in good stead. And regardless, it is my business to decide for myself whether to wear one, and I I take extreme umbrage at anyone arrogating that  or any similar decision for themselves.

I’m probably in better physical shape – in terms of strength/endurance/body fat/muscle mass/blood pressure and so on – than 90 percent of the male population, which is also arguably sound policy – but I don’t point guns at people and lecture them about going to the gym or going for a run every other day.

I despise busybodies who think they are “clever” – and want to be sure others know it – and then hector them for not following their unctuous advice.

I hope that is not you – and based on the context, I don’t think it is.

Seat belts – and air bags – have their benefits, which I have never denied. But they also have their costs, which others do deny. And – far worse – these others deny the right of other sovereign adults to decide for themselves whether the benefits are worth the costs (and the risks), which is an absolute outrage.

This was once a fairly free country. My hope is that someday, it will be again.

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