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Airbags: Keeping you alive, but they come with risks

Most people understand that airbags are in vehicles to prevent serious injuries with harsh impacts. Airbags aren't perfect, though, and there is a chance you can still suffer injuries regardless of the number of airbags present. In fact, some people suffer injuries as a result of the airbags deploying, which is a risk in any crash.

There are advantages and disadvantages to airbags. Here are a few things to keep in mind about these potentially harmful or life-shaving features.

Know the risks

Airbags are designed to protect adults. This is one of the main reasons there are warnings to turn off airbags if children sit in the front passenger seats of vehicles. When the airbag deploys, it does so with great force. There is a significant risk of injury when the airbag deploys. For instance, you could suffer an injury to your nose or neck from the impact of the airbag. Generally, it's believed that the risk of injury from the airbag is less than the risk of an injury without one if the force is such that the airbag deploys.

Some potential injuries caused by airbags include:

  • Chest injuries
  • Whiplash
  • Concussions

To reduce the risk of these injuries, it's important to sit 10 to 12 inches away from the steering wheel or front console. Additionally, children under the age of 12 are typically asked to sit in the back seats of vehicles due to their smaller statures. Using a seat belt also reduces the risk of airbag injuries, since the belt holds you in position.

Airbags deploy at up to 200 mph, so keeping a safe distance is vital.

Understand the benefits

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, cars that have passenger airbags and side-impact airbags greatly reduce the risk of death due to a crash. In a regular passenger vehicle, the reduction in risk of death was around 37 percent, whereas the reduction in SUVs was around 52 percent.

Overall, airbags do reduce the risk of injuries, but they can still cause injuries of their own.

After a crash, it shouldn't matter what caused your injuries. An insurance company for the at-fault driver should be willing to cover any injuries suffered as a result of the crash, not just those caused by the initial impact. Airbags are a part of most vehicles today, so their impact on the body has to be considered when you file a claim.

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