Airbags exist as an added safety measure for both drivers and passengers. Like seat belts, they are designed to protect you from serious injury during a car crash. Properly functioning airbags have and continue to save countless lives; they are an important staple in automobile safety. However, with every great rule come exceptions. When an airbag deploys incorrectly, it may worsen or increase the number of injuries sustained in the accident.
How are airbag injuries sustained?
As far as the airbag is concerned, most of its success comes down to timing. Airbags are connected to crash sensors, when impact occurs it sends a signal to the crash sensor which then inflates the bag. If the crash sensor malfunctions, it might cause the airbag to deploy too early, too late or not at all.
Another factor that contributes to the effectiveness of airbags is the position of a person’s body. Additional injuries may be sustained when a person is sitting or thrown too close to the airbag as it inflates.
- Burns or abrasions caused by the speed and force of airbag deployment.
- Reaction to chemicals released upon deployment (the airbag fills with gas).
Who is the most at risk for airbag injuries?
While anyone could fall victim to airbag injuries; infants, children, pregnant women and elderly folks pose the highest risk.
Infants and children: Rear-facing car seats put the child’s head too close to the frontal airbag when buckled in the front seat. For the safest transport possible, it is strongly recommended that children under the age of 12 be seated in the rear seats of a car. Parents are legally required to adhere to state specific child restraint laws.
Pregnant women: Pregnant women have a higher risk for airbag injuries because their abdomens sit much closer to the steering wheel. If an airbag deploys, the amount of space between the steering wheel and a woman’s belly becomes a major issue; the force of the airbag may cause fetal injury. Alternatively, if a pregnant woman is involved in an accident and the airbag does not deploy, the risk for fetal injury becomes much higher. For best safety practices, women in the late stages of pregnancy should avoid driving whenever possible.
Elderly: Like children, elderly folks tend to be much more fragile. Their bones are more delicate which makes them more susceptible to injury.