What does it feel like when your airbag goes off?

My new (well, new to me; it’s a '99) car has airbags, so I’ve been reading up on them. I hear that they can give you bruises and abrasions on your face, and they can break your arm or make you punch yourself in the face if you’re not holding the wheel at the now-recommended 9 and 3 o’clock positions.

All of this, of course, is preferable to bashing your face into the steering wheel or windshield at 65 mph.

I was wondering if anyone has been in an accident when the airbag deployed, and if you remember what it felt like? Like hitting a wall? Or did it feel cushiony? Or, given that an airbag inflates and deflates in something on the order of a tenth of a second, does it all go by too fast?

My brother got a broken nose and abrasions on his face from an airbag. He said it felt like being punched.

Think getting punched by someone with a pillow wrapped around their hand. For me, the most memorable part of the experience was the huge amount of white powder the airbag generates. I was sneezing for a long time. Not very pleasent.

I was a passenger in an accident where the airbags went off. I was wearing my seatbelt too. It happens so quick you don’t, realize what happened. I saw that we were about to hit the car in front of us and I braced for impact, then BANG! Everything went white for a split second, that was because the airbag was blocking my vision. The load bang was the airbags going off, not from the impact of the vehicles. The airbags didn’t cause either of us any injuries, but we were choking on the dust and smoke the airbags released.

I was in an accident where my car was spun around about 720 degrees, and my airbag deployed. My hands definitely weren’t at 10 and 2, since I was frantically turning the wheel when the airbag deployed. When the airbag deployed, it was too fast to really notice. I just realized that something had hit me in the face at the moment the other car hit me. It took me a few seconds to realize that my airbag had deployed. The only injury I received was a very small (about 1/2 inch) scratch on my face.

The bigger concern for me was that just after the airbag deployed, my car filled up with some kind of dust or smoke that made it difficult to breath. So while I wanted to sit in my car and be shocked, the fact that I couldn’t breath forced me to get out of the car and walk around. Not that that’s a bad thing.

All in all, mark me down as a fan of airbags.

Go get yourself about a 16oz boxing glove and hit yourself in the face with it. That’s what it felt like to me, but I never got a broken nose or anything like that from it. Guess the accident in itself was enough shock to keep me from really concentrating on the airbag.

Simul-triple-post! Woo Hoo!

FWIW the dust people have commented on is either cornstarch or talcum powder put in the folds of the bag to allow it to unfold.
No it isn’t toxic, but it can irritate the lungs.

I hit a Jeep that pulled out in front of me; I was going about 60 mph, and I estimate that I managed to brake to about 45 mph at impact. I remember myself cursing as I slammed on the brakes, and then I remember looking at the airbag hanging out of the steering wheel in front of me. I don’t recall hearing anything, although it must have been loud. I was wearing my seat belt; I had to turn the engine off. It was a cold day, but I could not sit in the car while we waited for the cop because of the noxious airbag “dust” and fumes. My only injury was a small cut on my hand; I think it hit the stickshift. The car had to be totaled.

Yeah, I like seatbelts and airbags.

There’s a dirty joke in there somewhere, trying to get out.

No one has mentioned the side-effect that happened to me, so I will - I was burned by the airbag that deployed on my then-girlfriend’s 1994 Saab - they were burns on the insides of my arms. Not really severe, but they hurt and made large red marks. IIRC, this was a common occurrence with airbags back in the early 90’s. At least that’s what the concerned folks at Saab told me. :slight_smile:

Just out of curiousity, do airbags hurt more if the person is wearing eye glasses/sun glasses?

Never been in an accident myself, but my friend and ex-roommate drove into a concrete median barrier at about 50 mph, and she had a pretty bad brushburn and some big-ass bruises on her breasts. (hooray for alliteration!) Of course, she’s also got some big-ass breasts, so that may have had something to do with it. :slight_smile:

Muldoon, when I was in an accident and the airbag deployed, it knocked off my glasses, but didn’t break them, and it didn’t hurt my face at all. I don’t even remember hitting the airbag.

I had bruises and scrapes on my arms and legs; nothing very serious. My nose was also sore, but not damaged.

My passenger had her glasses broken, my glasses were fine.

i was in two accidents where my airbag went off (two different cars, me being driver in both cases). both impacts were moderate in strength i should say that is, total loss in both cases but the windshield did not break :slight_smile:

I DID NOT FEEL ANYTHING AT ALL. the one time when i was wearing just a T-shirt my arms got bruised by the bag, the other time when i was wearing a winter jacket absolutely nothing happened, not a scratch.

if there is anything i felt it was that the bag was HOT. it is not filled up with compressed air you know, but with a product of rapid COMBUSTION, you can also smell the smoke very well, because the bag deflates instantly (you never even see it open) and the smoke which it is filled with comes out.

why didn’t i feel anything? because 1 - it is so fast. 2 - both times i was SO FUCKING SCARED my mind was frozen and i would not have felt if i was shot with a gun :slight_smile:

when you are 90% sure you will either die in next second or spend your life in wheelchair the last thing you worry about is how the airbag will feel :slight_smile:

I was in a head-on collision where both cars were travelling at 20-25 MPH. I don’t remember the airbag deploying and don’t remember hitting it. But I had no injury or soreness at all.

A friend of mine was in a very minor accident and had the airbag deploy. He said it felt like getting punched in the face, and he was left with rather severe burns on his wrist. The injuries from the airbag were far worse than the injuries he would have suffered from the minor fender-bender, so he was a rather unhappy camper concerning the whole subjet of air bags for a while. Mere mention of the subject was guaranteed to launch at least a 5 minute tirade on how the things should be forced not to fire in such a minor accident.

Somewhat related - the newer BMWs have an airbag which deploys with variable force, depending on the severity of the impact. Cite: http://www.bmwusa.com/site_layout/models/0137/0137_equipment.htm

Slight hijack:

What triggers the airbag to go off? Sometimes while driving, I have the feeling that I’m staring down the barrel of a loaded gun, and it freaks me out. I mean, if I ever hit a whomper of a chuckhole, could the trigger mechanism go off, giving me a faceful of airbag?