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Airbags are the newest addition to car safety features, and when used properly and in combination with other safety restraints, are incredibly effective. The numbers are astounding. As of 2003, more than 10,000 lives have been saved by front seat airbags. Side airbags have added significantly to this number. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, as of 2003, the presence of airbags has reduced the number of deaths from driver-side collisions by 45%.
The critical factor to airbag effectiveness and safety is to utilize it safely. Children, in particular, can be injured or even killed by airbags if a few simple guidelines are not implemented.
- Children under the age of 12 should always ride in the back seat, ESPECIALLY infants in rear facing car seats. Front seat airbags can suffocate small children.
-If children are small enough to require a car seat, then they should never ride in a car without being safely buckled into it.
- If, for some reason, a child must ride in the front seat when an airbag is present, then face the child in his seat forward and move the seat back as far as possible.
Adults, too, can be severely injured if the car safety features are not utilized correctly.
- Be sure to use lap belts and shoulder belts every time you get in to a car, as air bags are meant to supplement safety belts.
- Seats should be as far from the dashboard as possible, both for the driver and the passenger, and especially for those who are shorter or smaller in size.
- Unless seat belts are used correctly, air bags cannot do their job. Wear the lap belt low over the hips and beneath your abdomen. Adjust the shoulder belt so that it fits snugly over the collar bone and breast bone, away from the neck.
- According to the Department of Transportation, seat belts saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2003.
- Air bags are most effective when children are buckled up in the back seat and everyone has their seat belts on.
- Air bags are not oversized pillows. They explode out of the dashboard at up to 200 miles per hour. This rate of force can cause serious injuries if passengers are not properly using other safety features.
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