According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, air bags have saved the lives of almost 45,000 people between 1987 and 2015. They have become standard equipment in vehicles sold since the late 1990s.
Both front and side-impact airbags are designed to deploy during a moderate or severe crash. They work in tandem with seat belts by preventing your head and upper body from striking the inside of the vehicle during a crash. Seat belts are still important because they secure you to the seat during a crash. Besides, it is against the law in every state to not wear a seat belt while your vehicle is in motion.
Air bags do have some safety issues. You can sustain serious injuries if you are too close to the air bag when it first deploys. It is designed to inflate instantly when a crash occurs. Also, children under the age of 13 should be seated in the back seat because their small size may result in an injury when an air bag deploys. Smaller, younger children should be secured in a booster seat.
Sometimes air bags will not deploy during a crash. The crash may not be severe enough to cause the devices to activate. Some advanced air bag systems can detect where a small person is in the front passenger seat or a small child in a booster seat. Some used vehicles may have already been in a crash, and the air bags have not been replaced. When buying a used vehicle, make sure that the air bags are in place and ready to protect you and your passengers in the event of a crash.
Finally, air bags manufactured by Takata have been the subject of a recall because of a safety defect that causes them to explode, resulting in serious injuries. Check the list of affected vehicles, and contact your dealer to have the defect taken care of.
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