When Thom Yorke and his girlfriend got into a car accident in 1987, he developed a fear of cars. While he was not injured, his girlfriend suffered from whiplash. He later wrote the songs Airbag, Killer Cars, Stupid Car and The Drunkk Machine because of this incident.

Originally called 'An Airbag Saved My Life', after a headline that Thom Yorke saw in an AA manual and was immediately drawn to, and also as a tongue-in-cheek tribute to Indeep's 1983 disco hit 'Last Night A DJ Saved My Life'.

According to Thom, the song itself is about the 'feeling you get when you realise that you've just missed having a serious accident', and the 'feeling of elation that follows'. The song is one of Thom's favourites off OK Computer. The song takes inspiration from DJ Shadow's use of cut up drum beats to create the unique drum sound.