Since 1997, 87 people have been killed by air bags. This is according to the national Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Injuries that occur because of airbag deployment usually occur during the course of an accident. There are cases, however, were someone suffers a defective air bag injury when an airbag deploys inappropriately. While accident such as inappropriate deploying are usually the result of a defective product, injuries due to airbags deploying as intended can be avoided.
Some vehicles are equipped with on/off switches for air bags. These are usually operated by a key; usually the same key that starts the vehicle. There are times when you should switch these airbags off.
Whenever you are working on a vehicle in a way that might deploy the airbag, you should switch it to the off position. This will prevent accidental deployment due to shaking or moving the vehicle.
If you have a vehicle that does not have a back seat, such as a pickup, you’ll have to use appropriate child restraint systems when you have a child riding with you and you may want to turn off the airbag, depending upon the advice given for your particular vehicle.
Distance From the Airbag
You should make certain that you have at least 10 inches of space between the center of your chest and the airbag cover. Many of the injuries and deaths that result from airbags deploying happen because the person was too close to the airbag when it expanded. By sitting a safe distance back, you not only reduce the chance of being injured or killed, you also maximize the benefit that you get from airbags themselves.
Drivers and passengers who are unsually short or tall may react to airbags differently than the average size adult depending on how close to the front of the car they sit. Very short drivers often sit much closer to the steering wheel, and can be in danger from the airbag because of the force with which it deploys. In these situations, the airbag may be more dangerous than helpful. Similarly, a very tall individual should make sure that he or she is not too far away from the airbag.
Read Owner’s Manual
Make certain that you read your owner’s manual so you understand how the vehicle indicates that the airbag is turned off. Generally, you will have an indicator on your dashboard that will tell you whether or not the airbag is turned on or off. If you have a switch, it will likely allow you to turn off the driver and passenger side airbags.
Airbags have saved far more lives than they have taken. In fact, using a seatbelt and wearing an airbag greatly reduces your chances of suffering a serious or deadly injury during a car accident. Remember, however, that children should always ride in a backseat and that infants should always be placed in the back seat and positioned so that they are facing backwards. If you are injured by a defective airbag, you may wish to speak with a product liability attorney.