Do Airbags Save Lives in Car Crashes?
Air bags are designed to provide protection for drivers and passengers in the event of a car accident alongside the use of seat belts. Frontal air bags have been standard in all passenger vehicles since 1998 and side air bags are offered as standard or optional equipment on many new passenger vehicles on the market.
Since air bags were installed in vehicles, they have saved thousands of lives in moderate to severe car crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), frontal air bags saved 50,457 lives between 1987 and 2017. In 2017 alone, they saved 2,790 lives. Air bags save lives by decreasing the chance that the head or upper body will crash against the vehicle’s interior during a crash.
Do airbags cause injuries?
The downside of airbags is that they can also cause injuries or even death because they deploy at high speeds of 110 mph. Side impact air bags deploy even faster than frontal air bags. Common air bag injuries include broken bones, cuts, scarring and burns – especially to the face as well as concussions and eye injuries that can lead to temporary or permanent blindness. The chemicals inside air bags that are released into the air upon deployment can also cause asthma attacks.
The good news is that air bag injuries have decreased since advanced airbags were mandated in all new vehicles starting in 2003 because they can detect the weight and seating position of the passenger and the speed the vehicle is traveling. Still, there are some things that we can do to prevent air bag injuries:
- Sit properly in your seat. This means sitting as far back from the steering wheel as comfortably possible; NHTSA recommends allowing 10 to 12 inches between your chest and the space the airbag is enclosed in (often the steering wheel).
- Hold the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 o’clock or 8 and 4 o’clock positions because it can reduce the risk of your wrists or arms being broken or prevent your arms or hands from whacking you in the face if the airbag deploys.
- Always wear your seat belt and ensure your children are strapped into appropriate child or infant seats.
- Children under the age of 13 should always be seated in the back seat. If there is no back-seat option for your child, move the passenger seat back as far away from the dash as possible.
Takata air bag recall
In addition to their normal risks, there was also a manufacturer defect that put drivers and passengers at even higher risk of injury or fatality from air bags. On November 18, 2014, air bag manufacturer Takata was ordered by the NHTSA to start a nationwide airbag recall. This recall affected about 63 million airbags that had been used by 10 U.S. automakers in hundreds of thousands of vehicles that were built with the faulty air bags. The recall was issued because the air bags could explode upon deployment.
Seek the help of a car accident attorney
If you or a loved one was injured because of the negligence of another, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights. Let an experienced car accident attorney fight for the full compensation that you deserve. It is not uncommon to receive a settlement from the insurance company that is five to ten times larger with the help of a lawyer. Call the personal injury lawyers at Tario & Associates, P.S. in Bellingham, WA today for a FREE consultation! We have been representing residents of Whatcom County, Skagit County, Island County and Snohomish County since 1979. You will pay nothing up front and no attorney fees at all unless we recover damages for you!