The Truth About Driver and Passenger Airbags

Driver and passenger airbags in vehicles have been required by the federal government since 1999 for all cars, light trucks, and vans. Airbags have been proven to save lives--more than 4,800 people are alive today because of airbags in their vehicles. But airbags also have injured people in accidents, sometimes causing serious injury or death.

Who is at the greatest risk for injury? Unbelted occupants, especially passengers, are at risk because they are likely to move forward if there is hard braking or other violent maneuvers before a crash, causing them to be seated too close for safe airbag deployment. When riding in a vehicle, you should always buckle your safety belt and keep about ten inches between your chest and the cover of the airbag module.

Children and infants can also be at risk, due to their smaller size and the improper use of car seats. A rear facing infant seat should never be placed in a seat that is equipped with an airbag. Children under the age of twelve should be seated in the back seat of the vehicle and should always be properly restrained. The back seat is always the safest place for a child.

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