Monday, August 13, 2007

Passenger Air Bag Off

In this grainy picture produced by the supposed 1.2 mega-pixel camera of the hated Motorola SLVR L7 phone, what you're seeing is the Passenger Air Bag status indicator from a Chevy Impala I rented and rocked this weekend from Boston to York, Maine, and back.

The Impala, all fourteen, cherry-red feet of it, was a comfortable, stylish (if American) ride for the wedding-weekend. But this particular feature made no sense to me. And not just it's existence - I mean, really, why? - but it's implication - why?

Why would I want the passenger side air bag turned 'Off?' Should I, as the driver of this or any vehicle have that kind of power? To determine, seemingly by whim, accident or neglect, the fate of my passenger in the event of an accident?

So I can't imagine why this would (if the gauge is to be trusted) be an optional feature. Does the Impala get better mileage if the passenger-side air bag isn't activated? Or was it just GM's assumption that I would choose to let some of my passengers die in an accident or simply take their chances because I either hate them or don't care. Anyway, I thought the whole point of an air bag, like a guardian angel, was for it to be vigilant and ready to intervene when I hadn't been dismal enough to assume for myself that I might wrap the car around a tree on my way back to the motel.

My passenger and I were bothered by this revelation, and look as we did could not find any apparent way to activate the passenger-side air bag and turn the indicator from 'Off' to the hoped-for 'On.' So maybe (GM, I'm invoking your response here) I'm missing the point. Maybe 'Off' doesn't mean what I think it means. Maybe 'Off' is a good thing, as in, undeployed (but that's rather obvious in the case of an air bag) and so again, I beg the question, why this option, why this gauge?

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