Reduce Your Air Bag Risk
Air bags provide extra protection for belted occupants. They are designed to help keep your head, neck, and chest safe in a front-end crash. Most often, an air bag will deploy when a vehicle hits another vehicle or a solid object (like a tree). However, an air bag is not a soft, billowy pillow. It comes out of the dashboard at up to 200 miles per hour, faster than the blink of an eye. Because of this great force, an air bag can injure those who are too close to it.
Air bags differ in design and performance. There are differences in the crash speeds that trigger air bag deployment, the speed and force of the deployment, the size and shape of the air bag, and the manner in which they unfold and inflate. For specific information about the air bags in your vehicle, contact the vehicle manufacturer.
Ways to Reduce Air Bag Risk
- All vehicle occupants should wear their seat belts on each and every trip. Drivers should sit with at least a 10-inch clearance between the center of the steering wheel or dashboard and their chest. The steering wheel should be tilted upward, not straight across from the torso. Passengers in the front seat should double the distance due to the increased size of the passenger air bag.
- Drivers are responsible for making sure that everyone is buckled up.
- Infants in rear-facing child safety seats should never be placed in front of active passenger air bags.
- Children under 13 should always use a child safety seat or a seat belt in the back seat. Even if there isn't a passenger air bag in the vehicle, the safest place for infants and children is properly secured and buckled up in the back seat.
- Check your vehicle owner's manual and the instructions provided with your child safety seat for correct use information.
Air bags are supplemental safety devices - they must be used with a seat belt to be most effective. Air bags have been credited in saving thousands of lives and reduces the risk of serious head injuries.
Source: Minnesota Safety Council, citing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.