The invention relates to a method for operating a motor vehicle comprising an occupant protection system, comfort components, at least one occupant detection means for detecting the occupant situation, at least one surroundings detection means for detecting the surrounding situation, and at least one driving state detection means for detecting the driving state situation. The occupant protection system is adapted depending on the detected situation, in particular the hazard situation. One of several specified external protection or hazard classes is derived from at least some of the signals of the surroundings detection means and the driving state detection means, and one of several specified internal protection or hazard classes is derived from at least some of the signals of the occupant detection means and the driving state detection means. The operation of the motor vehicle is then adapted using the current internal and external protection or hazard class such that a specified total degree of the internal protection or hazard class and external protection or hazard class is maintained. Thus, a corresponding low internal protection class or a high hazard class is allowed in particular only in the event of a high external protection class or a low hazard class, in particular the use of specific comfort functions and/or degrees of freedom are allowed.