5 Tips for Minimizing the Risk of Airbag Injuries in Car Accidents

Airbag injuries are serious risks for drivers and passengers of all ages. While airbags are supposed to help prevent serious injuries during a car accident, airbag-related injuries are not uncommon. We regularly hear from accident victims, parents, and other family members who have questions about their legal rights, and if you or someone you love has been injured by an airbag, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced airbag injury lawyer.

Part of the reason why airbag injuries are so common is that tens of millions of vehicles on America’s roads are equipped with defective airbags. Over the past 25 years, most major manufacturers have sold vehicles with airbags manufactured by Takata or ARC. Both of these companies have faced airbag defect lawsuits—including lawsuits seeking just compensation for both serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths.

How Can You Minimize Your (or Your Child’s) Risk of Suffering Airbag Injuries in a Car Accident?

But, even if your vehicle’s airbags aren’t defective, the risk of suffering airbag-related injuries in a car accident is still a very real concern. This includes airbag injuries to the face, chest and arms. With this in mind, here are five important tips for minimizing the risk of airbag injuries in car accidents:

Tip #1: Find Out if Your Vehicle’s Airbags Have Been Recalled

If you have not done so already, you should find out if your vehicle’s airbags have been recalled. You can do this on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) official recall website. Simply input your license plate, vehicle identification number (VIN), or year, make, and model, and the NHTSA’s website will tell you if your vehicle is subject to a Takata or ARC airbag recall.

A recall notice issued for your vehicle’s airbags doesn’t necessarily mean that your vehicle is unsafe to drive (although it could mean this, as discussed in detail below). But it does mean that you should make an appointment to have your vehicle’s airbags replaced as soon as possible. Defective airbags can present serious safety risks—not only because they can fail to deploy during a car accident but also because they can explode rather than deploy properly.

Tip #2: Follow Any Do-Not-Drive Warnings Issued By the NHTSA

While the NHTSA has indicated that most vehicles equipped with defective Takata and ARC airbags are safe to drive while owners wait to have their airbags replaced, there are several exceptions. This includes exceptions for certain models (and model years) from the following manufacturers:

  • Acura
  • BMW
  • Chrysler
  • Dodge
  • Ford
  • Honda
  • Mazda

You can find a complete list of vehicles that are subject to Do-Not-Drive Warnings on the NHTSA’s website: Critical Do Not Drive Warning for Certain Vehicles with Takata Air Bags.

Tip #3: Sit At Least 10 Inches from the Airbag Cover

Regardless of whether your vehicle’s airbags are defective, it is important to sit far enough away from the airbag cover on your vehicle’s steering wheel or dashboard. As the NHTSA explains:

“To minimize the potential of any air-bag-related injury, NHTSA . . . recommends keeping a 10-inch minimum between the airbag cover (in the center of the steering wheel for drivers and on the dashboard for the right front passenger), maintaining a proper seating position, and moving the seat as far back as possible (drivers should be able to comfortably reach the pedals).”

Sitting too close to an airbag cover can be dangerous for a couple of reasons. First, the closer you are to an airbag when it deploys, the more force you will experience during the airbag’s deployment. Second, if you are sitting too close, you can be hit by the airbag cover when it opens, and the force of the impact caused by the airbag’s deployment can be more than enough to cause serious injuries. If a passenger cannot sit far enough away from a frontal airbag to be safe, then the passenger may need to ride in the back seat instead.

Tip #4: Make Sure Children Under Age 13 Ride in the Back Seat

Due to the risk of injuries from airbag deployment, the NHTSA recommends that all children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat. According to the federal agency, “[p]lacing a child in the front seat, no matter what the circumstances, comes with increased risk.” Sitting in the back seat helps to protect children under age 13 against the risk of airbag-related injuries caused by sitting too close to the dashboard.

When sitting in the back seat, children should wear safety restraints or ride in safety seats appropriate for their height and weight. Many modern vehicles also have back seat airbags, and being properly restrained is important for mitigating the risk of airbag-related injuries regardless of where an occupant (child or adult) is sitting in a vehicle.  

Tip #5: Wear Your Seatbelt (and Make Sure Your Children Wear Their Seatbelts)

As the NHTSA also explains, “Airbags are designed to work with seatbelts, not replace them.” As a result, wearing a seatbelt is essential for minimizing your risk of suffering airbag injuries in a serious car accident. When drivers and passengers aren’t wearing seatbelts, their bodies can be thrust forward or to one side in the event of a crash, and this can increase their risk of suffering airbag-related injuries significantly. Wearing a seatbelt helps ensure that drivers and passengers are in the optimal position to be protected by their airbags—provided that their airbags deploy properly.

Do You Have an Airbag Injury Claim? Talk to an Airbag Injury Lawyer for Free

Have you (or has someone you loved) suffered serious airbag-related injuries in a car accident? If so, we strongly recommend that you speak with a lawyer about your legal rights. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with an experienced airbag injury lawyer as soon as possible, call us at 866-247-2247 or tell us how we can reach you online today.