Airbag Safety Tips

With the 2015 Takata airbag recall still making the news this year, the potential dangers of airbags remain at the forefront of the public’s minds. Although these pieces of safety equipment undoubtedly save thousands of lives each year, they pose certain risks as well. Because they deploy at such a high rate of speed (often around 200 miles per hour), airbags have the potential to cause injuries even as they prevent death.

Fortunately, when it comes to airbags, there are many risk factors that you can control to some degree. Here are the most important:

  • Always wear your seatbelt properly.
  • Position your seat as far back from the dashboard as possible, whether you’re the driver or the passenger.
  • Keep your steering wheel parallel to the floor.
  • Children under 12 should never sit in the front seat.
  • When driving, try to hold the steering wheel at the 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 o’clock positions with the thumbs on the outside of the wheel.
  • Never put your feet up on the dashboard when riding in the passenger seat.

This last point is particularly important because it may not seem terribly important. There isn’t often a lot of legroom in cars, so it seems harmless enough to stretch out your legs by putting your feet up and moving your seat back to increase your space. But if you happen to be in an accident, having your feet up can make all the difference in the type and severity of your injuries.

Bethany Benson, a 26-year-old from Michigan, found that out the hard way when, in 2010, she was in a car accident when her boyfriend couldn’t stop fast enough to avoid hitting a big rig that suddenly braked to avoid another accident. Benson, who was sleeping with her feet up on the dash, was hit by the deploying airbag with enough force to break her feet and several bones in her face, and cause a traumatic brain injury because of the force with which her knees hit her head when the airbag slammed into her legs. These days, she can’t do any of the sports, such as boxing and kayaking, that she used to love. She isn’t going to be a teacher anymore either. She lost her fluency in French and even some of her English. She is unlikely to ever be able to live alone or support herself completely due to her medical bills and special needs. While Benson would undoubtedly have been injured in the crash regardless of how she was sitting, it is likely that her injuries would not have been so extensive; her boyfriend needed 100 stitches but doesn’t have any of the long-term, serious side effects that she has had.

Now, one of Benson’s desires is to serve as a safety advocate and a warning to others. She doesn’t want anyone else to make the mistake she did. If you or someone you care about has been injured due to the negligence of another, contact Whiting Law for a free consultation.

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