Despite deaths, injuries and recalls, air bags still save lives

“The horror of this type of defect is that you don’t need it until you need it, and when you do need it, it’s now going to be hurting you,” said Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety in Washington, D.C. “A defective safety product is just as terrible as defective brakes or a steering wheel that prevents steering.”

 

by Jamie L. Lareau
Detroit Free Press
May 13, 2019

In January 1997, Terri Vaccher saw a bright flash as she slammed head-on into the trailer of a semi-truck.

She feared the flash of light was her life ending, but it was the exact opposite.

Vaccher, who was 30 and eight months pregnant, was in her Ford Explorer SUV on a freeway in Irvine, California, that day when a tractor-trailer truck in front of her jackknifed and spun out across all lanes. She had little time to react at 60 mph.

“The whole dashboard was on my legs,” said Vaccher. “I saw this bright light and I truly thought that I was going to die, but that light was actually the air bag coming out.”

The impact of the air bag burned her arms and slammed her into the seat, where her seat belt cinched up hard to hold her in place.

She broke her left leg and knee and her right ankle. Rescuers spent an hour using the jaws of life to extricate her, but “nothing from my belly up” was injured. Two days later she gave birth to a premature, but healthy, boy she named Dominic.

“I’m just very, very grateful,” said Vaccher. “I absolutely believe, had I not had an air bag and my seat belt on, I never would have survived that.”

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