Because of much misunderstanding about airbags, people often underestimate the force of their deployment. A car crash happens quickly and is over after about 200 milliseconds. Because an airbag must fully deploy before the driver’s face reaches it, it has about 25 milliseconds to do its job. Airbags therefore, must use a fast chemical reaction, (i.e. an explosion) for inflation. People have said that getting hit by an airbag is like getting struck by a baseball bat. That’s an accurate description given that airbags have broken bones in the face and chest. To avoid an airbag injury, follow these four tips:
- Wear your seat belt. Airbags are not stand-alone devices. Their effective use requires that you wear a seat belt. The seat belt restrains your body, preventing the hard braking before the crash from slamming you next to the airbag. To avoid airbag injuries, it must fully deploy before you reach it.
- Properly position yourself in your seat. Slide your seat back until you have a minimum of 10 inches between your chest and the steering wheel. If this prevents you from reaching the steering wheel or the gas and brake pedals, then after sliding your seat back as far as possible, tilt the seat back. Avoid excessive tilting because it may cause the seat belt to injure you in an accident.
- Use the 9 and 3 o’clock hand positions on the steering wheel. The old recommendation used to be the 10 and 2 o’clock positions. However, this position causes the inflating airbag to fling the arms into the rear-view mirror and A-pillar, which may break the wrist or arm. Keep your hands and arms away from in front of the steering wheel as well. This means you shouldn’t use the hand-over-hand method of turning the wheel.
- Don’t lean against the door. Some cars now have side airbags, which may cause injury if you aren’t properly positioned. Leaning against the door also poorly positions you within your shoulder belt.
If a car crash left you or a loved one injured, contact us with your questions.