Frontal air bags first became a standard automotive safety feature in the 1980s, and while they were certainly a good start, original air bags still had some functional issues to work out in order to improve occupant safety. They deployed in a uniform manner regardless of the occupant, and this frequently caused injuries, and in rare cases even fatalities among children and smaller adults.
Air bags have come a long way since then, and today the sophisticated sensing systems utilized by advanced frontal air bags are far more efficacious in protecting drivers and front seat passengers. Still, no matter how smart your air bag is, it is important to remember that these devices are only supplemental restraint systems. To ensure that you and your passengers are as safe as possible, there are several other key safety precautions that should be utilized in a complementary fashion:
ALWAYS Wear a Seatbelt
Even though advanced frontal air bags have the ability to sense your weight, seat position and various other factors, these devices are still intended as a means of enhancing-not replacing-the protection offered by your seat belt. When a crash does occur, your seat belt is intended to function as your first line of defense against injuries.
Proper Seating Position
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommends that occupants keep a 10-inch minimum between their breastbone and the air bag cover in their vehicle (located in the center of the steering wheel for the driver and within the dashboard for the front seat passenger). If you are not sitting correctly, neither the seat belt, nor the frontal air bags can do their jobs as intended.
Children Are Safest in the Back Seat
It is best to place all children under the age of 12 in the back seat to better protect them. At this young age, the bodies of children are often to small to be properly protected by frontal air bags.
You Must Install New Advanced Frontal Air Bags After Deployment
Following an accident, remember that advanced frontal air bags cannot be reused, and must be replaced to ensure that the driver and his or her passengers are adequately protected in the future.
Read Your Owner’s Manual
While the technology used in air bags and other forms of occupant protection have certainly improved over the past three decades, they cannot guarantee protection in all accident situations. Read your vehicle owner’s manual to get a better idea of its unique safety features and how they are best utilized.
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