Will airbag deployment launch my friend's purse through her ribcage?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Aug 01, 2005

Dear Tom and Ray:

We are a couple of old broads in our 70s, both very hard-headed. My friend drives with her purse between her stomach and the steering wheel. I think this is probably very dangerous! I tried to tell her that when the air bag is deployed, it comes out with a great deal of force -- enough to push her purse into her ribs or stomach and do major damage. Am I right to worry about my best bud, or am I just a worrywart? -- Ouida

RAY: Well, we're more worried about those big cigars she smokes, Ouida. One of those could end up down her gullet if the air bag deploys.

TOM: But you're right about the purse. We checked with the air-bag experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and they gave the purse position a thumbs-down. They're concerned that it could interfere with the proper path of the air bag.

RAY: So I suppose, instead of heading directly for her chest, the purse could deflect the air bag upward, sending the force of it directly into her schnozola. Or the air bag could break the pocketbook, allowing a piece of it to cause her a nasty injury.

TOM: Not to mention the embarrassing possibility that she'd end up with the word "Prada" embossed, backward, on her abdomen.

RAY: And then there's the factor of what's in the bag. I know that old ladies, by regulation, are required to carry large quantities of facial tissues. But she probably also carries some hard objects, like keys, a compact or even knitting needles.

TOM: So the best place for the bag is on the floor on the passenger side, or right next to her, between the front seats. Tell her if she has an emergency need for a tissue or a picture of her grandkids, you'll be right there to provide an immediate assist, Ouida.

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