Air bags, when combined with seat belts, are an effective safety feature that has saved many lives. It is estimated that airbags save at least 3,000 lives a year. However, there are questions about the safety of airbags. Most airbag injuries occur for one of four reasons:
- The driver is sitting too close to the airbag module (drivers should be at least 10 to 12 inches from the steering wheel)
- A driver or passenger is riding without a seat belt
- A child or an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat is in the front seat
- Small children are placed in a lap/shoulder safety belt rather than a car seat or booster seat
Front air bags are designed to save adult lives. They are not designed for child passengers. For this reason, children under age 13 should always ride in the back seat. Airbags can seriously injure or even kill children who are in the front seat.
What about side airbags?
Passenger-side airbags reduce the risk of death in a car crash by 13.5 percent. But, this is only true for car passengers age 13 and older by a statistically significant 13.5 percent. It is estimated that an additional 88 right-front passengers ages 13 and older.
Passenger-side airbags inflate at speeds up to 140 miles per hour (mph). If a child is sitting close to the airbag at the time of inflation, the blast of energy released can cause injury or death - especially if the child is not restrained in a properly fitted car seat or booster seat. The release of the airbag can cause severe injuries to a child even in a minor crash.
But a car seat is not enough protection. A car seat places the child closer to the dashboard. If a child is in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat, the inflating airbag may strike the safety seat with enough force to seriously injure or kill the infant.
Never allow a child under age 13 to ride in the front seat.
What about rear-seat airbags?
Side curtain airbags do not deploy with the same amount of force as side-passenger airbags. Still, backseat passengers should be warned to never lean against the side windows and doors. Car seats and booster seats position a child at a safe distance from the side airbag, so they don't pose a danger to properly restrained children.
There are cases where malfunctioning airbags cause injury and if you believe you were injured by a malfunctioning airbag, you should contact an Atlanta accident attorney to discuss your case.
If you or your child has been injured a Georgia car crash, Atlanta accident attorney Shane Smith can help you get accountability and compensation. Contact Shane Smith Law at (980) 246-2656 to schedule a free consultation.