General and Specific Airbag Safety Information

Today’s new cars raised the bar on vehicle safety and greatly increase the chances of drivers, passengers and children making it through an accident without serious injuries. Getting the most out of these installed safety accessories is the owner’s responsibility. Knowing where and how to sit when positioning yourself in front of an airbag assembly can reduce risk of injury. Learning about problems such as recalls and service bulletins in reference to your own specific automobile is also valuable information for both drivers and passengers. This article discusses ideal positioning of adults and children in front of an airbag assembly and provides links to government websites where car owners can check for vehicle specific airbag problems.

Recommended Seating Position for Adults

The most important thing to remember about airbags is they’re designed to be used in conjunction with the seat belt assembly. The seat belt holds the driver in place so the airbag can provide the best protection. Another important factor in how well the airbag will protect the driver and passengers is the seating position of these people.The NHTSA (national highway traffic safety administration) recommends motorists maintain at least 10 inches between the airbag outer covering and the breastbone or chest area. This rule of thumb is recommended for both drivers and passengers. Being farther away is better than being closer than the recommended 10 inch minimum. This specification was provided to prevent injuries from the deploying airbag itself.

Seating Position for Children

Safecar.gov provides excellent information for parents on children’s car seats and how to properly strap them into a vehicle. Generally speaking, a forward facing rear seat is still the recommended location for a car seat and children under 13 years of age. On vehicles with no rear seat, such as pickup trucks or sports cars vehicle manufacturers have provided ways to disable the passenger side front airbag assembly. On some automobiles this is done automatically by sensing the weight of the passenger in the front seat.

Information for Child Car Safety

Consulting the vehicle’s owner’s manual is the best place to find specific information on how and where to place a child in that particular automobile. The owner’s manual that comes with the car seat is the best place to find information on how to get the most out of that specific device. In addition to these two easy to find resources the NHTSA provides extensive support for concerned parents. Parents can register their car seat at the NHTSA website and they will be notified of any problems or recalls with that specific brand and model seat. In addition, they provide car seat inspection stations where certified technicians will verify the seat is properly installed. Online registration forms and an easy to use inspection station locator are both available on the NHTSA child seat safety page.

Airbag Recalls and Defects

Despite the manufacturer’s best efforts sometimes problems develop with the factory installed SIR (supplemental inflatable restraint) system. These individual issues are closely monitored by the vehicle manufacturer and the NHTSA. When trends are identified, recalls are issued and owners notified. The NHTSA in conjunction with safecar.Gov also posts this airbag safety information on their websites and provides press releases to news organizations. Although these methods have proven effective in notifying drivers, it’s not foolproof. An automobile can be sold many times making it impossible for the manufacturer to notify the current driver by mail and not all motorists watch world news programs.

Professional mechanics will recommend that drivers occasionally check with the vehicle manufacturer directly, for open recalls and safety bulletins. Motorists can contact the customer service hotline number in the owner’s manual and provide their vehicle identification number to the representative. The car company is required to notify you of any open recalls at this point of contact.Drivers can take matters into their own hands by searching the NHTSA’s databases that provide an in-depth searchable record of safety Issues for specific Vehicles. This is a good area to find out about problems that are still in the research phase or common issues that are being looked into by the government agency and vehicle manufacturers. Drivers taking the time to learn important facts about automotive airbags and how they operate are in a better position to get the most out of them.