What can be done to protect yourself from airbag injuries?

While airbag malfunctions are unpredictable, there are certain things we can do, as passengers, to reduce the likelihood of being injured when an airbag deploys. Manufacturers design the distance an airbag travels outward based upon the distance they estimate passengers will be seated from the airbag when it deploys. Researchers have determined that the risk zone for driver airbags is the first 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm) of inflation. So, placing yourself 10 inches (25 cm) from your driver airbag gives you a clear margin of safety. Measure this distance from the center of the steering wheel to your breastbone. If you currently sit less than 10 inches away, you can adjust your driving position in the following ways:

  • Move your seat to the rear as far as possible while still reaching the pedals comfortably.
  • Slightly recline the back of your seat. Although car designs vary, most drivers can achieve the 10-inch distance even with the driver seat all the way forward by slightly reclining the back of the seat. If reclining the seat makes it hard to see the road, you can raise yourself up by using your car’s seat-raising system (not all cars have this!) or a firm, non-slippery cushion to achieve the same effect.
  • Point the airbag toward your chest, instead of your head and neck, by tilting your steering wheel downward (this only works if your steering wheel is adjustable).

The rules are different for children. An airbag can seriously injure or even kill an unbuckled child who is sitting too close to it or is thrown toward the dash during emergency braking. Experts agree that the following safety points are important:

  • Children 12 and under should ride buckled up in a properly installed, age-appropriate car seat in the rear seat.
  • Infants in rear-facing child seats (under one year old and weighing less than 20 pounds / 10 kg) should never ride in the front seat of a car that has a passenger-side airbag.
  • If a child over one year old must ride in the front seat with a passenger-side airbag, he or she should be in a front-facing child safety seat, a booster seat or a properly fitting lap/shoulder belt, and the seat should be moved as far back as possible.

Always use your lap/shoulder seat belt when riding in your car. Airbags are just a supplemental restraint system, and statistics show that there is a greater risk of injury as may result of using airbags alone, as opposed to airbags and seat belts being used together.

Properly maintain your airbag system. If your airbag light constantly illuminates that is a sure sign of a system malfunction. Have a qualified technician inspect your entire airbag system and its components to ensure proper function.

Even if you exercise all due caution, there is the potential for injury as a result of a malfunctioning air bag. If you find yourself injured by a malfunctioning airbag, the Law Office of attorney Dan Newlin & Partners can help. Our firm has the experience of assisting over 10,000 accident victims to receive compensation for their injuries. Our aggressive and knowledgeable approach has helped our clients get the settlements they deserve. Please call us at (407) 888-8000 for a free consultation and get the answers you deserve to all of your questions.