Inflatable Bumper - Like an Airbag, But Stupid

"Inflatable bumper?" you say. Wouldn't something like that need to be enormous, and made of impossibly strong material to stop a car? Then you see the picture. "Oooooh, isn't that cute... Somebody's an idiot!"
The likelihood of a plastic bag stopping a four thousand pound car is wildly optimistic. You'd think that cars were much heavier in 1972, but oddly enough, they were about the same. A '71 impala weighed 4200 pounds. Same as a 2007 Honda Pilot. The pilot is smaller, but safety equipment and electronics are heavy things.

Anyway, it's clear that Hadley's first concern is the safety of the car. The driver remains unprotected. In a collision, there are two impacts: the car hitting the ice cream truck and you hitting the dash board. The subsequent delightful multiple impacts of dreamsicles and ice cream sandwiches tumbling down over you is unimportant, because it's 1972, you have no airbag in your steering wheel, and you're wearing the steering column through your chest.

Better than that, the whole system relies on the driver "sensing an emergency" in time to push the button, ensuring that the car will be saved, once his remains are hosed out of the interior, of course. The assumption with this idea is that the driver has constant flawless perception as well as the reflexes of a housefly. If the "panic button" were mounted anywhere on or near the steering wheel, you'd hit the button with your nose, elbow, spine, liver, etc, but just after the initial impact, and long after the button could do you any good. Or, assuming that a miracle occurred, you do manage to hit the button and your car bounces softly off of the lucky obstacle. Then what? Can the bag be repacked by the user or do you have to drive around with a giant balloon on the front of your car until you can make it to the dealer to have it re-stuffed? Airbags generally tend not to have misfires. Sensor technology just wasn't there in 1972.

The silliness of this whole invention makes itself immediately apparent to almost anyone who's ever heard of "inertia". If Sir Isaac Newton were here... well, he'd be a zombie. More importantly, he'd write a letter to the editor of Motor Trend demanding Dan Hadley's address, so he could go round there straight away and eat Mr. Hadley's brain. After all, he wasn't doing much with it. Sadly, though, we'd have to break the news to Zombie Newton that the article is from 1972, and he had overslept. Even if we knew for a fact that Hadley had died testing his invention since then, it would be small consolation for poor Zombie Newton.


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