Air Bags are Hazardous to Your Thumbs

Air Bags are Hazardous to Your Thumbs
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Airbags are supposed to protect us from accidents, right?

Tell that to one Dr. Ken Thompson.

In a somewhat reversal of fortune, the good doctor ended up injuring his thumb when the airbags of his 2006BMW 325xi deployed after a minor fender bender with another car.

While the airbags did their job in shielding his body from the minor scrape, his right thumb wasn’t so fortunate.

“I had what they call a partial amputation," Thompson said. “My right thumb is just basically hanging and that was the only injury I sustained.”

It may seem like a case of Dr. Thompson’s thumb being at the wrong place at the wrong time but the truth is, the matter is far more serious than most people think. The problem with most cars these days, including BMW, is that the horn buttons are situated in the center of the steering wheel – the very same spot of the air bag cover. When you’re seconds away from a car accident, the natural instinct is to honk your horns to alert the other car to at least move out of the way of you careening vehicle. Now in the event the other driver doesn’t hear or see you and an accident ensues, the air bags deploy dangerously close to where your hands were when you were honking your horn. In that case, injuries to your hands and arms could happen – as was the case with Dr. Ken Thompson’s poor right thumb.

It strikes us as ironic how the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is careful to remind us not to be too close to the air bags when they deploy, yet stress to the car manufacturers that the air bags be placed right under the horn.

Even more perplexing is the NHTA’s warning about the potential effects of air bag deployment. The warning pretty much says, “Air bags deploy very rapidly and very close or direct contact with a deploying air bag can cause serious or even fatal injury.”

If that was the case, then why put the air bags at the exact same place drivers are mostly likely to put their hands on before the moment of impact?

In the case of Dr. Ken Thompson and thousands of others who’ve experienced an assorted number of injuries from air bags, it’s an extremely valid question that’s in need of some serious explaining.

Source: New York Times

Kirby Garlitos
Automotive Aftermarket Expert -
Kirby’s first exposure into the world of automobiles happened when he caught Knight Rider on television as a five-year old boy. David Hasselhoff didn’t leave much of an impression on him (that happened later on in Baywatch), but KITT certainly did. To this day, Kirby remains convinced that he will one day own a car with the same ‘spirit’ as the original KITT (not the 2008 monstrosity). He doesn't know when that will be, but until then, he’s committed to expressing his love for KITT, and all cars for that matter, here at TopSpeed.  Read More
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BMWM6  (488) posted on 06.22.2009

Landrover has two strips placed verticaly on the steering wheel and when you press them they activate the horn they seem far from where the airbag would deploy I didnt like them because I am used to a regular horn and in an emergency I would be pounding the steering wheel because that is my first thought

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