Since the 1999 model year, the federal government has required frontal airbags on all new cars, light trucks, and vans. Today, airbag technology continues to advance. When coupled with seat belts, airbags significantly reduce the risk of death and injury among drivers and passengers. In front impact collisions, occupants do not stop immediately. Frontal airbags are designed to complement seat belts, protecting drivers' heads and chests from hitting the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield. Side airbags provide cushion and spread the weight of side impact collisions to prevent drivers and passengers from taking the brunt of the force. Side airbags that offer head protection are especially important as it may be the only barrier between the occupant and the object. To avoid risks associated with airbags, NJM recommends following these guidelines:
- Drivers should sit with their chests at least 10 inches from the steering wheel center. In that position, drivers should comfortably reach the pedals. It not, then they could consider pedal extenders.
- All occupants should wear a seatbelt. Airbags are NOT a replacement for seatbelts, they are added protection.
- Children younger than 13 years old should be in the back seat of the car to keep them away from inflating airbags as noted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Understanding the significance and limitations of airbags and following these tips from NJM can help keep you and your family safe on the road.