Alternative Safety Technologies: Are Airbags Still the Best Option?

There is no question that airbags save lives. But there is also no question that airbags can be dangerous. This is especially true of defective airbags—of which there are currently millions on U.S. roadways.

With this in mind, are airbags still the best option? Or are there now safer alternatives?

There Is Currently No Substitute for Vehicle Airbags

The short answer is that there is simply no substitute for a properly functioning airbag. While other vehicle safety features can help mitigate the risk of accident-related injuries, they can’t protect drivers and passengers in all scenarios. Additionally, in many cases, other safety features are specifically intended to work with—rather than instead of—proper airbag deployment. For example, modern seat belts are designed to help restrain drivers and passengers so that their airbags have time to deploy in the event of a collision.

With this in mind, we can take a look at some of the alternative safety technologies that exist—once again recognizing that none of them serve as a complete substitute for having properly functioning airbags in a vehicle:


Seatbelts restrain vehicle occupants in the event of a collision. However, without airbags, seat belts can actually cause injuries in some cases. For example, if a seatbelt restrains a driver and the driver’s airbag doesn’t deploy, the driver’s head can whip forward and backward violently—potentially causing soft tissue damage, nerve damage and other whiplash-related injuries.

Child Safety Seats

Child safety seats are designed to protect infants and small children who are not tall enough to wear their seat belts at the proper position across their chests. In many cases, when a child is riding in a safety seat, the child’s airbag should not deploy. However, it is still important that the rest of the vehicle’s airbags deploy to protect the driver and any other occupants.

Anti-Lock Braking Systems (ABS)

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) help prevent vehicles from skidding during emergency stops. When a vehicle is skidding, the driver is out of control—and this means that the driver is helpless to avoid a collision. However, anti-lock brakes cannot prevent all collisions, and this means that they are not a substitute for airbags.


Appropriate tires with adequate tread work with anti-lock brakes to help prevent loss of control. But, even if you are in complete control of your vehicle, another driver might not be. As a result, even if you have brand-new snow tires on your vehicle, you still need airbags in case someone else puts your life at risk.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC)

Electronic stability control systems serve a similar function to ABS. Thus, similar to anti-lock brakes, they are designed to help prevent the need for airbag deployment. However, when airbag deployment is needed, no amount of ESC can protect drivers and passengers who are at risk for serious injuries.

Backup Cameras

Backup cameras help drivers avoid collisions while reversing. They do not prevent injuries in the event of a collision; and, as a result, they are not an alternative to properly functioning airbags.

Lane-Keeping Assistance

Lane-keeping assistance falls into the same category as backup cameras. While lane-keeping assistance technology can help prevent certain types of accidents in some cases, it cannot prevent injuries when an accident occurs.

Heads-Up Displays

Just like the other safety features listed above, heads-up displays that show warnings when a rear-end collision is imminent can help prevent accidents, but they cannot prevent accident-related injuries. Additionally, when a heads-up display is not paired with self-driving capabilities, a warning is not enough on its own to prevent a potentially serious collision.

Warning Beeps and Lights

Modern vehicles beep and flash warning lights for all types of hazards. But, here too, these only serve to mitigate the risk of causing an accident—they do not prevent injuries when you are involved in an accident that is someone else’s fault.

Self-Driving Capabilities

Even self-driving capabilities are not a substitute for properly functioning airbags. Not only is current self-driving technology far from perfect, but there are still scenarios in which self-driving technology won’t be able to evade a collision. Thus, proper airbags are still essential—and defective airbags in vehicles with self-driving capabilities can still pose risks for life-altering or life-threatening injuries.

When Airbags Don’t Work, Manufacturers Can (and Should) Be Held Accountable

As you can see, even in modern vehicles equipped with all of the latest alternative safety technology systems, airbags are still essential. As a result, airbags need to work properly—and when they don’t, manufacturers can (and should) be held accountable. Airbag injuries can be extremely serious, and defective airbags can do much more harm than good.

So, let’s say you are driving (or riding in someone else’s vehicle) and you are involved in an accident. Let’s also say that either (i) your airbags fail to deploy properly or (ii) they fail to deploy at all. In this scenario, what are your legal rights?

As we just mentioned, manufacturers can (and should) be held liable for injuries caused by defective airbags. This means that you may have a claim for just compensation. If you have a claim for airbag-related injuries, you are entitled to just compensation for all of your financial and non-financial losses—including your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life. This is true regardless of any other safety features in your (or the other driver’s) vehicle and regardless of whether these safety features functioned properly before or during the collision.

We Help Accident Victims and Families File Claims for Defective Airbags Nationwide

We represent accident victims and families nationwide who have claims for defective airbags. If you or a loved one has been injured by an airbag in a collision, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your legal rights with an experienced lawyer for free, give us a call or tell us how we can contact you online 24/7.