Michael H. Saul Attorney at Law
Representing Marietta, Gainesville And Northwest Georgia
678-269-6275

Airbags: A hazard that is rarely discussed among drivers

In a car crash, there are many things that can lead to your injury. Drawing in the front seat? That pencil becomes a projectile. Listening to music? Your headphones could potentially pierce the eardrum. No matter what you do, there's always a risk that you could be hurt.

One of the things people don't talk about enough is airbag safety. Most assume the airbag is there for their health, so they don't consider the harm it could do. When you're not the weight or height an airbag is designed for, there is a much higher risk that you're going to get hurt if it deploys. In vehicles today, there are more than just the airbags in the front seat. There are airbags along the sides and sometimes even in the rear. These all have great force when they deploy. It's hoped that the force is less than the force an impact would cause, but it's still a hazard.

How can you avoid injuries from airbags?

To avoid injuries from airbags, drivers need to stay back as far from the wheel as they can. Airbags come out at speeds that exceed 200 mph for around 12 inches. If you're sitting closer than that, you're going to be hit by the full force of the bag as it deploys. It's better to sit back far enough that the bag actually starts to deflate before your head hits the bag. This makes it absorb more impact and reduce the force that hits you.

All airbags are not the same, so there is a potential to be safe if you have to sit closer, but it's still a risk to most people. Shorter people should always wear seat belts (everyone should, really). With a seat belt, you won't be thrown forward into the airbag. If you are, you actually multiply the force of impact and could face even more serious injuries than if you'd been strapped in.

For shorter drivers who can't reach the pedals when seated back far enough, consider getting pedal extenders. These devices fit on the brake and accelerator, making them up to five inches closer to the driver. This lets the driver sit back further, regardless of height.

For passengers, many airbags turn off if the passenger isn't over the correct weight limit, at least in newer vehicles. If you don't have a newer vehicle, just keep in mind that children shouldn't sit in front, because airbags are particularly hazardous to them.

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