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  • Writer's pictureTom Fowler

Are Airbags More Dangerous Than Good During a Car Accident?

In today's fast-paced world, car safety features have become more advanced, offering protection for drivers and passengers. Among these features, airbags stand out as lifesaving devices.


However, there's a growing concern among front-seat passengers about whether airbags are genuinely beneficial or if they pose more risks than rewards during a car crash.


First and foremost, it's crucial to understand how air bags work. When a vehicle experiences a collision, sensors detect the impact and trigger the airbag deployment.


These inflatable cushions rapidly inflate to provide a barrier between the occupants and the hard surfaces of the vehicle, such as the wheel, dashboard, or windshield.


Alongside seat belts, timely airbag deployment helps reduce the risk of serious injuries, particularly to the head and chest, during a crash. also have more information on right of way laws in Iowa.


Airbags Can Be a Boon and a Bane

Airbags Can Be a Boon and a Bane


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that over 3.3 million car accidents in a recent study had airbag deployments, saving over 6,000 lives.


These statistics highlight the lifesaving potential of air bags in protecting passengers during accidents. However, it's essential to acknowledge that airbags can be lifesaving but are not without risks.


  • Fragile Passengers 

One of the main concerns surrounding air bag deployment is the risk of injury, especially to front-seat passengers.


Airbags may sometimes deploy excessively, causing abrasions, bruises, or fractures.


Also, the force of the airbag deployment can be particularly harmful to children or small adults, whose bodies may not be able to withstand the impact as effectively as larger people.


  • Manufacturing Error

Moreover, there have been instances of faulty airbags leading to serious injuries or fatalities.

In rare cases, air bags may deploy unexpectedly or fail to deploy altogether during a collision. Manufacturers have issued recalls for defective airbags.


  • Unnecessary Injuries 

Another consideration is the risk of airbag-related injuries in low-speed accidents that may not be inherently fatal.


Timing is crucial when an airbag deploys in moderate to severe crashes. Unfortunately, there have been cases where airbags opened up unnecessarily in minor collisions, causing unneeded injuries.


Common Injuries Caused by Passenger Airbag Deployment


Passenger air bags are hailed as a crucial safety feature in modern vehicles, designed to protect occupants during collisions.


However, amidst their lifesaving potential, a lesser-known reality exists. The potential for injuries caused by airbag deployment is all too common on American roadways.


Eye Wounds

The rapid deployment of passenger airbags can create significant force, leading to many injuries, including eye wounds.


Upon deployment, airbags release a burst of gas to inflate rapidly, often propelling debris or fragments from the dashboard toward passengers.


These projectiles can cause abrasions, lacerations, or even penetrating injuries to the eyes, resulting in pain, vision impairment, and potential long-term damage if left untreated.


Traumatic Brain Swelling

In severe collisions, the force of the pedestrian hood airbag can exert considerable pressure on the head and neck, leading to traumatic brain swelling.


This happens when the brain sustains a sudden impact or acceleration-deceleration injury, causing blood vessels to rupture and fluids to accumulate within the tissue.


Traumatic brain swelling can result in symptoms such as headache, dizziness, confusion, and, in severe cases, coma or death.


Severe Fractures

Despite their protective intent, airbags can contribute to severe fractures, particularly in the upper body and extremities.


The forceful inflation of airbags can exert significant pressure on the chest, ribs, and arms.

Also, the sudden deceleration of the vehicle during a collision can place immense strain on the skeletal system, further increasing the risk of fractures.


Dental Injuries

Teeth injuries are another common consequence of frontal airbags, often resulting from the abrupt impact of the airbag against the face and jaw.


The force the passenger seat-cushion airbag creates can cause teeth to collide forcefully. This can lead to chipped, cracked, or avulsed teeth and soft tissue injuries to the gums and lips.


How to Prevent Airbag Injuries


One of the most effective ways to prevent injuries is by ensuring proper seat positioning.

Drivers and passengers should adjust their seats to maintain a safe distance from the front and panoramic sunroof airbag module. The best personal injury attorney in Des Moines can provide more insight to this.


Maintaining a distance of at least 10 inches between the chest and the airbag can reduce the risk of impact-related injuries during deployment.


  • Seat Belt Usage 

Seat belts are essential companions to airbags, working in tandem to maximize occupant protection during collisions. All passengers (even in the rear seat and child safety seat) must wear seat belts properly.


Inflatable seat belts help distribute the force more evenly across the body, minimizing the risk of impact-related injuries and providing extra support in conjunction with airbags.


  • Children and Airbag Safety

Regarding child passengers, special precautions are necessary to ensure their safety in vehicles equipped with airbags.


Children under 13 should always ride in the back seat, away from the forceful deployment zone of frontal airbags.


It's Essential to Keep a Safe Distance from the Steering Wheel


One of the simplest yet most impactful actions drivers can take in automotive safety is maintaining a safe distance from the wheel.


While it may seem minor, this slight adjustment can make a world of difference in the event of a crash.


As mentioned above, drivers should aim to position themselves at least 10 inches from the steering wheel, leaving enough space for the airbag to deploy effectively without causing undue harm.


Motorists should adjust their seats to comfortably reach the pedals and wheel while maintaining a slight bend in their elbows.


Certain passengers may be more vulnerable to wheel and deployment injuries. Shorter adults, children, and pregnant women may face increased risks due to their proximity to the wheel.


Not Wearing Seat Belts Increases the Risk of Fatal Injuries

Not Wearing Seat Belts Increases the Risk of Fatal Injuries


Seat belts serve as the first line of defense in protecting passengers during a collision. Numerous studies and real-world data highlight the lifesaving potential of safety belts.


NHTSA reports that seat belt usage reduces the risk of fatal injuries to front-seat occupants by 45% and the risk of moderate to critical injuries by 50%.


Final Words


Whether airbags are more dangerous than beneficial during a car accident is complex, with no one-size-fits-all answer.


While airbags have undoubtedly saved countless lives, they also carry inherent risks that drivers can't ignore.


Letting children and shorter female adults ride in the back seat is always a good idea. Motorists should also regularly inspect their vehicles for faulty gear and deployment issues.

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