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Are Airbags As Safe As They Sound? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   It was just three weeks ago when I sat in an auditorium at the Department of the Interior in Washington D.C., listening to Andrew Card, President of the American Automobile Manufacturers, speak about air bag safety. I never knew that his lecture would linger in my mind as it has.

Monday, March 31, 1998 was a day I will always remember. It was a bright, sunny day and my friend was driving me and a friend home from school in her mother's luxury car when we suddenly rear-ended a red minivan. The car crunched like an accordian. The panel in front of glove compartment flew into my face and the air bag pounded my face and chest area at 200 miles per hour, like a boxer punching his opponent. I didn't know what was happening. The driver rushed to help me out of my smoking car while the air bag deflated. I was a shaken up with abrasions on my face, a fat lip, swollen jawbone, earache, bruised ribcage, banged up arm and seatbelt burnt across my stomach. I was brought by ambulance to the emergency room where I was checked over and discharged a few hours later. I thought the worst was over, but it was yet to come.

Two days later I was rushed to my orthopedic surgeon because my lower left arm was in excruciating pain. X-rays were taken and no fracture was evident, but my hand was cold, starting to turn pale, and I lacked a pulse. Within 15 minutes, my mom and I were back at the hospital listening to the surgeon talk about options to restore my pulse. The first procedure (and scariest thing I have ever gone through) was an arterial gram to photograph my arteries. Afterwards I was taken to the recovery room and hooked to every monitor imaginable. Once again, I thought everything was going to be okay.

But I was wrong - the results came back. I could tell from the surgeon's expression that the outlook was not good. The doctor told my upset parents that it was either operate now or I would lose my arm. My parents were not even given the option to send me to a premier hospital for children in Boston, because of the time factor.

The operating team took me into the operating room around 11: 15 p.m. after my mother and father kissed me goodbye. The doctor found that some arteries had closed due to a muscle spasm which he fixed. I came out of the operating room at 3: 15 a.m. with more than 200 stitches, but with my arm. I woke up the next morning in intensive care not even knowing I had had surgery. I spent five days in the hospital and am still recovering with only two minor scars. I was lucky!

So, are air bags effective? In my opinion air bags are not reliable, and you never know when they will inflate. Why did my air bag go off and not the driver's? I know they save lives but in some instances they kill innocent victims. I believe air bags should have an on/off switch. In my case I believe a seat belt, which I had on, would have protected me just fine.


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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