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Airbags: These Devices Have Slashed The Highway Death Toll

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Airbags: These Devices Have Slashed The Highway Death Toll

Transportation_PassengerAirBagLogoAirbags are one of the most important safety innovations of recent decades. They provide crucial cushioning for people during a crash. The devices are normally hidden from view but inflate instantly when a crash begins. Thanks to the advocacy of IIHS and others, frontal airbags have been required in all new passenger vehicles since the 1999 model year. Side airbags aren’t specifically m andated, but nearly all manufacturers include them as st andard equipment in order to meet federal side protection requirements.

Both frontal and side airbags save lives. Frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by 29 percent and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 32 percent. Side airbags that protect the head reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and an SUV driver’s risk by 52 percent.

Engineers keep finding new ways to use airbags. Some vehicles now have rear-window curtain airbags to protect people in back seats or front-center airbags to keep drivers and front-seat passengers from hitting each other in a crash. There are also inflatable safety belts aimed at reducing rear-seat injuries.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, “Airbags.” iihs.org website. Accessed May 29, 2014. http://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/airbags/topicoverview

© Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. This content is strictly for informational purposes and although experts have prepared it, the reader should not substitute this information for professional insurance advice. If you have any questions, please consult your insurance professional before acting on any information presented. Read more.

Safety & Prevention

Transportation_ChildCarSeatAn air bag can save your life. However, air bags and young children are a dangerous combination. The following information will help keep you and your children safe: The safest place for all infants and children younger than 13 years to ride is in the back seat. Never put an infant in the front seat of a car, truck, SUV, or van with a passenger air bag.

All children should be properly secured in car safety seats, belt-positioning booster seats, or the lap  and shoulder belts correct for their size. All infants and toddlers should ride in a rear-facing car safety seat until they are 2 years of age or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.

All children 2 years or older, or those younger than 2 years who have outgrown the rear-facing weight or height limit for their car safety seat, should use a forward-facing car safety seat, up to the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.

All children whose weight or height is above the forward-facing limit for their car safety seat should use a belt-positioning booster seat until the vehicle seat belt fits properly. When children are old enough and large enough to use the vehicle seat belt alone, they should always use lap and shoulder seat belts for optimal protection.

Side air bags improve safety for adults in side impact crashes, but children who are not properly restrained and are seated near a side air bag may be at risk for serious injury. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to see what it says about children and side air bags.

New “advanced” air bags make travel safer for adults, but it is not yet known how they will affect the safety of children. Even though these new air bags may be safer, the back seat is still the safest place for children younger than 13 years to ride.

What Parents Can Do: Eliminate potential risks of air bags to children by buckling them in the back seat for every ride.Plan ahead so that you do not have to drive with more children than can be safely restrained in the back seat.

For most families, installation of air bag on/off switches is not necessary. Air bags that are turned off provide no protection to older children, teens, parents, or other adults riding in the front seat.

Air bag on/off switches should only be used if your child has special health care needs for which your pediatrician recommends constant observation during travel and no other adult is available to ride in the back seat with your child.

If no other arrangement is possible and an older child must ride in the front seat, move the vehicle seat back as far as it can go, away from the air bag. Be sure the child is restrained properly for his size. Keep in mind that your child may still be at risk for injuries from the air bag. The back seat is the safest place for children to ride.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, “Safety & Prevention.” healthychildren.org website. Accessed May 29, 2014. http://www.healthychildren.org/english/safety-prevention/on-the-go/pages/air-bag-safety.aspx?nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR:%20No%20local%20token&nfstatus=401&nftoken=00000000-0000-0000-0000-000000000000&nfstatusdescription=ERROR:%20No%20local%20token

© Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. This content is strictly for informational purposes and although experts have prepared it, the reader should not substitute this information for professional insurance advice. If you have any questions, please consult your insurance professional before acting on any information presented. Read more.

Air Bag Safety

Transportation_DeployedAirBagAir bags save thous ands of lives each year, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In frontal crashes, air bags reduce deaths among drivers by about 30 percent and among passengers by 27 percent.

Air bags, however, can be dangerous. If small children sit unbelted in the front seat, they can be catapulted into the path of a deploying air bag, which inflates with great force. This risk also applies to small adults—who must sit close to the steering wheel in order to reach the pedals—pregnant women and the elderly. Infants in rear-facing safety seats on the passenger side can be severely injured because their heads are in the direct path of an inflating air bag. If your airbag is stolen or it deploys, you must get a new one, but you will be reimbursed under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.

PREVENTING AIR BAG INJURIES

Drivers should have all children sit in the backseat wearing a safety belt. Infants should be placed in rear-facing car seats and put in the backseat. Small adults should move the seat back so that their breastbone is at least 10 inches from the air bag cover.

If this is not possible, air bag switches can be installed so that the vehicle owner has the option of turning the bag off or on, depending on the situation. In January 1998, NHTSA allowed auto dealers and repair shops to begin installing air bag cut-off switches. Before the switch can be installed, vehicle owners must complete a four-step process:

1. Obtain an information brochure and request form from NHTSA, dealerships or repair shops
2. Return the form to NHTSA
3. Receive authorization from NHTSA after it reviews the case
4. Take the vehicle to the service shop along with the authorization from NHTSA which certifies that the owner has read the brochure and met one of the four eligibility classifications:

  • rear-facing infant seat can be in the front (necessary if the vehicle has no back-seat)
  • driver’s seat cannot be adjusted to keep more than 10 inches between the driver and the steering wheel
  • putting a child 12 or under in the front seat can not be avoided
  • having a medical condition that puts them at risk of injury when an air bag deploys.

Source: Insurance Information Institute, “Air Bag Safety.” iii.org website. Accessed May 29, 2014. http://www.iii.org/individuals/auto/lifesaving/airbags/

© Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. This content is strictly for informational purposes and although experts have prepared it, the reader should not substitute this information for professional insurance advice. If you have any questions, please consult your insurance professional before acting on any information presented. Read more.