Airbags are crucial to vehicle occupant safety. In the event of a car accident, airbags drastically reduce the chances of suffering a severe upper body or head injury. However, there are some safety tips you should follow to increase the effectiveness of your vehicle’s airbags.
Below are our top five airbag safety tips that we encourage everyone in Jackson to follow.
Always Wear a Seat Belt
Airbags are not designed to replace seat belts, but to work in conjunction with them. Always wear your seat belt when riding in a motor vehicle. You can think of your seat belt as having two parts—the shoulder belt and the lap belt.
To wear properly, your shoulder belt should rest comfortably across the center of your chest and on your shoulder. If your seat belt rests high on your chest or across your neck, adjust the height until it is settled correctly. Never place the shoulder belt under your arm or behind your back. This will lower the efficacy of the seat belt and the airbag and increase your risk of serious injury.
The lap belt should rest across your hips, not your stomach. If you are pregnant, you should place the lap belt underneath your belly and low on your hips. You should also speak with your obstetrician about the safest way to wear your seat belt.
If you do not wear your seat belt, your airbag can cause catastrophic injuries or even death in the event of a car accident. Furthermore, Mississippi state law requires that all drivers and passengers wear a seat belt while traveling in a motor vehicle.
Keep Children Properly Restrained in the Backseat
In the event of a crash, airbags are designed to protect adults by striking them in the chest, preventing them from hitting their head or other parts of their body against the dash. The front seat is never a safe place for children. If a child is in the front seat when an airbag deploys, they will be hit in the head rather than the chest. The impact of an airbag deployment to the head can cause irreversible head and neck injuries in children.
Families in Jackson, MS must be aware of state laws regarding child restraints:
- All children aged 4 and younger must be properly secured in a car seat.
- There are no legal requirements for how long a child must remain rear-facing, although current guidelines recommend that children remain rear-facing until the age of 2.
- Children between the ages of 4 and 7 must use a booster seat.
- Children over the age of 7 must remain in a booster seat if they are shorter than 57 inches and weigh less than 65 pounds.
Mississippi does not have a specific law that regulates the age at which children may begin riding in the front seat. However, it is recommended that children remain in the backseat until they are at least 13 years of age. If you are unsure whether your child is tall enough to safely ride in the front seat, defer to the expertise of their pediatrician.
Maintain a Safe Distance for Drivers and Passengers
Sitting too close to the dashboard can lower the efficacy of your vehicle’s airbags and may increase your risk of serious injury. Maintaining a safe distance for both drivers and front seat passengers will ensure that everyone is as protected as possible in the event of an accident.
Keep in mind the following safe distances whenever you are traveling in a motor vehicle:
- For drivers, at least 10 inches between your chest and the steering wheel
- For passengers, as far back as the seat physically allows
Never Ignore the Airbag Indicator Light
For vehicle owners, the appearance of an indicator light on the dashboard can stir immediate feelings of dread. The cost of repairing an issue with your vehicle can be expensive, and it is easy to fall into the bad habit of ignoring indicator lights or, if they disappear without explanation, pretending as if you never saw them.
If your airbag indicator light turns on, do not ignore it. Your safety and life could be on the line if your airbag malfunctions during a collision. Schedule an appointment with a trusted and reputable auto repair shop to evaluate for potential problems with your airbags. Have your vehicle checked out even if the light turns on and then disappears.
Replace Airbags After Every Collision
Airbags do not necessarily deploy after every collision. However, that does not mean that the airbags or the mechanism that controls their deployment were not damaged in the crash. After every collision (even minor ones) have your car fully inspected by a reputable auto repair shop. If you do not have an auto repair shop that you use, your auto insurance company will have a list of preferred shops that you can visit.
If your airbags need to be replaced and the accident that caused the damage was not your fault, you may be able to recover the cost of your necessary auto repairs.
What if I Was Injured Even After Following These Airbag Safety Tips?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that airbags saved 50,457 lives between 1987 and 2017. While airbags save lives and reduce the rate and severity of motor vehicle injuries, they are not 100% effective at preventing all injuries. This means that it is entirely possible to follow all of the above tips and still be injured in an accident. This does not mean that the airbags didn’t do their job.
However, if another driver’s negligent, reckless, or wrongful actions were the cause of your Jackson car accident, you may be owed compensation for your damages. This includes compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, and vehicle repairs.
Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC Is a Powerful Advocate for Injury Victims
At Pittman Roberts & Welsh, PLLC, our attorneys have more than a combined 150 years of experience advocating for injury victims. If you’ve been injured in a car accident in Jackson or anywhere else in Mississippi, you deserve to receive maximum compensation for the full extent of your injuries.
We are here to answer any questions you might have about your legal rights in your car accident case. Contact our office today by calling or filling out our convenient online form to schedule your free, no-obligation case evaluation.
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