The National Safety Commission Alerts

Safety is No Accident. Visit the National Safety Commission - America's Safety Headquarters for driver safety information, auto recalls and teen safe driver tips.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Air Bag Safety 101

Follow These Tips for a Safe Trip

Air bags deploy very rapidly. Very close or direct contact with the air bag can cause serious or even fatal injury as the air bag first begins to deploy. Ensure proper seating position and proper safety restraint usage for all occupants in the vehicle.
• Buckle your safety belt at all times.
• Your chest should be positioned about one foot from the cover of the air bag module.
• Never place a rear-facing infant seat in directly in front of an air bag, unless the air bag ON-OFF switch is in the OFF position.

• Never place an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in the front seat of a vehicle with an active front passenger air bag.
•Children age 12 and under should be properly restrained in the back seat in child safety seats, booster seats or safety belts appropriate for their age and size.
• To minimize the risk of injury, NHTSA advises that children not lean or rest against chest-only or head/chest combination side air bags (SABs).
• If there is no available rear seat and/or there is no other option than to place a child other than an infant in a rear-facing child safety seat in a front passenger seating position, follow these guidelines:
•Make certain the child* is properly restrained according to their age and size,
•Move the seat as far back as possible,
•Make certain the child is not leaning out of position, such as leaning forward into the deployment path of the air bag and
•If possible set the air bag ON-OFF switch to the OFF position.
•For more information, please visit

Pregnant Women
The best level of protection to a pregnant woman is the combination of safety belts and air bags. Make certain she is properly belted, and the seat has been moved as far back as possible.

The lap belt should be situated low on the abdomen, below the fetus, and the shoulder belt should be worn normally. The seat belt will keep a pregnant woman from contact with the steering wheel. The air bag will help diffuse crash forces that would otherwise be concentrated by the seat belt.

Small & Elderly Adults
It is safe for smaller adults and elderly people to be seated in front of an air bag. They should be properly belted, maintaining a proper seating position, and the seat should be moved back as far back as possible.

Drivers concerned about achieving the recommended 10-inch distance between the air bag cover in the steering wheel and the driver's breastbone should ask their vehicle manufacturer about the availability of pedal extenders. If the driver still cannot comfortably achieve the 10-inch distance, an air bag ON-OFF switch may be a solution. With the introduction of advanced air bags beginning in the 2004 model year, much of the risk of an air bag-related injury is minimized and an ON-OFF switch may not be necessary.

Online courses are now available to educate drivers on the rules of the road and the latest defensive driving techniques. Try it today!

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The National Safety Commission, Inc.
PO Box 3359
Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32004-3359

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