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Air Bag Safety

Smaller-stature adults, who are more likely to sit closer to the dash to reach the pedals, and pregnant women should be especially cautious about air bag safety. If you are a small-stature adult or a pregnant woman, here are a few tips to help ensure your safety when driving a vehicle with air bags.

This information highlights examples of safety precautions you can consider to protect yourself, your family, and your property. This list is not meant to be all-encompassing. Moreover, a particular precaution may not be effective or appropriate in all circumstances. We encourage you to use your own good judgement about what's appropriate.


Smaller-Stature Adults

 All drivers need to be properly belted with both a lap and shoulder belt.

 Move the driver's seat as far back as possible to allow space between the driver's chest and the steering wheel. This space will allow the air bag more room to deploy.

 Consider using pedal extenders. These allow drivers to sit farther away from the steering wheel.

 Hold the steering wheel from the side so arms aren't between the driver and the air bag.

 In cars with steering wheel adjusters, tilt the steering wheel down so you don't have to sit closer to the steering wheel in order to see over it.

 Slightly tilt the seat back.

 Because seating positions vary from vehicle to vehicle, check the seating position when purchasing a new car.

Pregnant Women

It's important to note that while as many as 3,400 fetal deaths occur in motor vehicle accidents each year, only one has been documented that involved an air bag. Pregnant women can reduce their risk by following these simple rules:

 The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that pregnant women wear safety belts. The shoulder portion should be positioned over the collar bone. The lap portion should be placed under the abdomen as low as possible on the hips and across the upper thighs, never above the abdomen.

 Pregnant women should sit as far back from the air bag as possible. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommends that pregnant women who drive should move the seat back, making sure there is as much room as possible between their abdomen and the steering wheel.

Note: Late in pregnancy, some women may find it impossible to position their abdomens away from the steering wheel. In these cases, air bags do increase the risk of fetal problems. However, there is a risk even without the air bag due to close proximity to the steering wheel.

 When in doubt, have someone else drive.


This article includes copyrighted material used by permission from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

 
 

Related links:
  Air Bags
  Passenger Safety
  In Case of an Accident
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