Air bags have been among the most valuable vehicle safety features ever introduced. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), frontal air bags alone saved over 50,000 lives between 1987 and 2017.
However, the effectiveness of air bags depends in part on drivers and passengers. They do not replace the necessity for wearing seat belts — both the shoulder and lap belt. They’re known as a supplemental restraint system (SRS) because they supplement seat belts. Further, children need to be properly secured in child safety seats based on their age and height.
Except under a few specific circumstance (as we’ll discuss below), air bags should never be disabled. If your air bag malfunction light stays on for more than about 10 seconds when you start your engine, have your car checked out right away.
If your air bags don’t have an on-off switch, don’t try to disable them yourself. It needs to be done by a professional. However, there are just a few instances in which an air bag should be disabled:
- If you have no choice but to put a child in the front seat
- If someone has a medical condition that could make an air bag deployment dangerous for them
- If a driver’s body is less than 10 inches from the steering wheel’s center
Air bags can mean the difference between life and death in a crash. However, even with air bags, you can still suffer serious injuries. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the actions or negligence of another driver, make sure that you get the compensation you need to cover expenses and damages.