Y’know how some folks say they don’t wear a seat belt because they want to be thrown free in a crash? Here’s how that works in actual practice.
The air bag fires as the front bumper begins to deform and your body rises off the seat. Because you’re not belted in, the bag boosts your upper torso against the roof liner, bounces your head off the sunshade and bezel, then feeds you directly into the windshield glass.
Laminated glass doesn’t disintegrate, so your skull probably won’t completely penetrate the windshield. You’ll lose some scalp, though, as you slide down the crumbling glass and wedge above the dashboard.
Even if you survive a broken neck, the ensuing brain trauma means you won’t be the same person ever again.
News flash: massive brain trauma does not make you a better person.
Before laminated windshield glass became mandatory, your head would completely penetrate the windshield. Here’s what happened in 1937, from the incomparably grisly — And Sudden Death by J. C. Furnas:
I read one of the many Reader’s Digest editions of that article during my formative years. Probably the one in October 1967, if a bit of Google-fu serves me right. You can’t get reprints of it from RD any longer, it seems.
However, unbelievably, while I was composing this post, I checked eBay and found a typewritten copy of the article, signed by Furnas, with 38 minutes remaining in the auction. I was the only bidder: for nine bucks (delivered) it’s mine.
Most likely it’s a publicity / fundraising copy, because the handwritten notation on the first page reads:
J. C. Furnas
Oct 20, 1947
Those SUVs reside in the junkyard along the Dutchess Rail Trail near Creek Road, where I might get a new seat to rebuild my comfy office chair this spring.