Here at our Phoenix personal injury law firm, the majority of our cases are motor vehicle collisions. We are happy that since the advent of safety devices in cars, most of our clients are survivors of these collisions, not their heirs. Unfortunately, there are still drivers and passengers who do not believe in the laws of physics and refuse to wear their seat belts. Frontal air bags are the second line of defense against serious injuries; seat belts are still the first and best defense in car accidents.
From the time frontal air bags were introduced in the 1980s to 2012, NHTSA estimates that 39, 976 lives have been saved; however, for people under 5 feet tall, the early air bags could be deadly because they were designed for the average man. Today, we have “smart” air bags use sophisticated sensing devices to provide the right level of protection to drivers and front seat passengers in the event of a crash. The sensing devices decide what deployment level is best, depending on the occupant's weight, seating position, seat track position and seat belt use, as well as the severity of the crash.
However, even with advanced air bags, an essential partner is needed – your seat belt. Seat belts are the first line of defense during a crash. Always use your seat belts and make sure your front seat passengers use theirs.
Key Safety Precautions
- Wear your seat belt.
- Keep a 10-inch minimum between your breastbone and the air bag cover (center of the steering wheel for drivers and on the dashboard for right front passengers).
- Place children 12 and younger in the back seat in an appropriate child restraint system.
- If you are elderly or small-stature: Make sure you are properly belted, maintain a proper seating position and move the seat as far back as possible.
- If you are pregnant: Make sure the lap belt is positioned low on the abdomen below the fetus, with the shoulder belt worn normally.
- Install new advanced frontal air bags after deployment - they cannot be reused.
- Check to see if you your air bag readiness (warning) light is illuminated. If so, the vehicle should be serviced by a qualified technician without delay.
- Read your owner's manual. No air bags, not even your advanced frontal air bags, can be designed to handle every car accident.
Jay Ciulla is an attorney in Phoenix, Arizona who assists car crash victims in personal injury and wrongful death cases.