Airbag Safety Tips

Though airbags are proven to greatly reduce deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents, they can be dangerous.

An airbag is a simple device in which, when a vehicle strikes a barrier traveling at least 14 mph (23 km/h), a nylon bag inflates in about 0.04 seconds. The device is designed as a secondary, passive restraint system used in conjunction with seatbelts, the primary, active restraint system. Once the bag inflates, it immediately begins to slowly deflate through vents in the fabric.

While airbag technology continues to evolve, such as inflating according to the severity of the accident, where the occupant is sitting, whether the occupant is wearing a seatbelt, and other factors, there are precautions drivers and passengers can take to minimize airbag injuries:

  • If possible, drivers should always have children sit in the back seat.
  • Infants should be secured in a rear-facing car seat and placed in the back seat.
  • Smaller adults should move their seat back so their torso is at least 10 inches away from the airbag trim cover.

Vehicles manufactured after 1998 have the option to turn off the airbag, if necessary, such as in the following circumstances:

  • The driver cannot accommodate more than 10 inches of space between their torso and the steering wheel.
  • It is not possible for passengers under 12 years old to sit in the back seat.
  • A child must be placed in the front seat if there is no back seat.
  • The driver has a medical condition that may result in greater injury when the airbag deploys.

If you do not have an airbag shutoff switch, you can have one installed after obtaining permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). For more information, you should check out their website.