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Understanding the potential dangers of airbags


It is estimated that every year, airbags save over 1000 lives. Unfortunately, they also kill approximately 100 children. Causes of these fatalities include children sitting in the front seat, not being properly fastened by seat belts, or the seat belts not be fastened at all.

Even though airbags are truly extraordinary safety devices, they also pose some real dangers. By understanding what these potential dangers are, we can educate ourselves how to use them properly.


Always use seat belts with airbags

Airbags are designed to be used with seat belts. Understand that the purpose of a seat belt is to restrain the driver and any passengers from the impact of a motor vehicle accident. If an airbag deploys without the restraints of seat belts, the driver will sustain the full impact of the airbag deploying. That is like being hit in the torso and face with an object going 200 miles per hour.

Injuries reported from airbag deployment when a driver wasn’t wearing a seat belt include traumatic brain injury, facial injuries, burn injuries, chest injuries, broken bones, concussions, paralysis, whiplash and death.

In addition to the lap belt, always ensure that the shoulder portion of your seat belt are securely in place to help cushion the impact of the crash, which will protect you from the airbag.


Sitting too close to the steering wheel is dangerous

Sitting too close to the steering wheel is very dangerous. Shorter drivers, those 5’ 4” and under, tend to adjust their seats to the full forward position, with their chests and heads way too close to the steering wheel. If the airbag deploys while this close to the wheel, the face and torso will absorb a great deal of the force of the deployment. This can cause devastating head and chest injuries.

Instead, shorter drivers need to push their seats back, tilt the steering wheel down, raise the seat up, and push the telescoping steering wheel all the way in. The wheel should be 10-12” away from the driver. Shorter drivers may need to sit on a pillow or get a pedal adjuster.


Don’t put children in the front seat of a vehicle

In some states, there are size, weight and age limits designed to determine if it is safe for a child to sit in the front seat of a car. Regardless of these efforts to ensure child safety in the front, the backseat is the safest place in the car for children because frontal airbags systems are not designed for kids

Infants and babies should be placed in backward-facing child seats and small babies should be placed in forward-facing child seats. Make certain all other children are belted in.

Side or curtain side bags in the back seat are considered safe for children.

Air bagsare not intended to replace seat belts. They are part of a supplemental restraint system.Please follow the safety rules for seat belt use and airbags. If you do, then airbags can be the lifesavers they are intended to be.


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