Air Bags Save Lives, But Have Hidden Dangers

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Fenton, MI — April 20, 2023

Since they were first introduced in the early 1970s, the introduction of airbags in passenger vehicles has saved countless lives. Design engineers continue the development of airbag systems and their enhancements to passenger safety. Knee bolster, side impact, and seat airbags bring new technologies to protect vehicle interior occupants in the case of a car crash.

If you have never experienced an airbag deployment, be thankful. Body shops deal with the aftermath of vehicle crashes and know the results of the explosion that initiates the inflation of the device.

Photo Credit: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety / IIHS.org

Under certain conditions, technicians are required to initiate the action of causing the inflator to fire for safety reasons. The sound can be described as similar to a shotgun blast. Deafening and scary in close quarters.

The power of these devices is something to be respected. The explosive deployment is necessary to quickly inflate the protective cushion. However, it can cause serious injury if passengers do not adhere to proper seating recommendations.

How many times have you seen a vehicle on the road where the front seat passenger has their feet on the dash?

Air Bag Safety

Just to review, here are some important safety considerations when riding in an air bag vehicle.

  • Children under 13 should be placed in the rear seats.
  • Rear-facing infant seats should never be placed in the front passenger seat.
  • Wear your seat belt, the air bag is not a substitute for a proper restraint harness.
  • Move your seat as far back as possible to safely operate the vehicle.
  • Do not position yourself within 12 inches of the steering wheel or dash air bag.
  • If the air bag malfunction indicator lamp illuminates, never attempt repairs yourself. Have a qualified technician inspect the system.

“NHTSA estimates that during 1990-2008, more than 290 deaths were caused by frontal airbag inflation in low-speed crashes (National Center for Statistics and Analysis, 2017). Nearly 90 percent of the deaths occurred in vehicles manufactured before 1998, and more than 80 percent of people killed were unbelted or improperly restrained. Most of the deaths were passengers, and more than 90 percent of those were children and infants, most of whom were unbelted or in rear-facing child safety seats that placed their heads close to the deploying airbag. Short and elderly drivers, who tend to sit close to the steering wheel, also were vulnerable to inflation injuries from frontal airbags.” (As reported by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Drive and ride smart, don’t become a statistic.