The success of modern-day supplemental air bag systems is clear, but key challenges remain. Complaints and misconceptions about air bag systems can result when customers do not understand how the systems function. Field investigation remains critical to both the automotive industry and the research community's understanding of real-world occupant restraint system performance. Field experience has suggested that the combination of safety belts and air bags can provide the best overall risk reduction, but only if safety belts are used, and used properly.THE PURPOSE of this paper is to outline several misconceptions that result from differences between the consumer's understanding of air bag systems, including their content, function and performance, and the actual system operation and field performance of air bag systems. The safety community faces the challenge of recognizing and helping to dispel erroneous information. The value of supplemental air bag systems with properly worn safety belts, and continued field collision investigations are also discussed.