There are numerous safety features in cars designed to minimize injuries and save lives in the event of a crash. One of those features is air bags, which are bags that inflate upon impact that can cushion any blow that a vehicle occupant may experience. Though air bags have saved countless lives since their installation in most vehicles, it is important to understand how to use them properly.
Some people assume that if their car is equipped with air bags, they do not have to wear seat belts. However, air bags are meant to work in conjunction with safety belts in the event of a car accident. Perhaps you or someone you know here in West Virginia is still alive today because of an air bag. If you've ever wondered just how air bags work and why they are an important safety feature, here are some basic facts.
What air bags can do
Air bags engage most often in moderate or serious crashes. They contain a harmless gas that inflates the bag to help protect the head and upper body from hitting anything in the interior of the vehicle. These days, many passenger vehicles have both front and side airbags that help protect you in a crash. In 2017, the National Highway and Traffic Safety Association found that frontal air bags saved almost 2,800 lives.
What air bags cannot do
As helpful as air bags can be, they sometimes pose certain risks. Experts warn that there are instances when turning an air bag off is the safest option, particularly if a child or infant has no choice but to sit in the front seat of a car. Some drivers of shorter stature may have to sit close to the steering wheel, meaning an air bag could actually hurt them in a crash. Also, it may be wise to turn off a frontal air bag for people with certain medical conditions.
Is your air bag genuine?
Sometimes, a vehicle may contain a fake air bag that doesn't meet proper safety standards. Fortunately, this is not a common issue in American vehicles, but it is important for you to understand, nonetheless. Some repair shops may not install a genuine air bag, and air bags purchased online can be problematic as well. These fake air bags may fail to inflate when needed or even break apart and jettison metal at vehicle occupants. Make sure that all the air bags in your car meet federal safety standards.
Even with these helpful suggestions, air bags can't prevent car accidents, nor can they prevent all injuries in a crash. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a collision due to a negligent driver, the resulting injuries could be life-long. Fortunately, you have options through the legal system that may help you secure the necessary funding for needed medical care.