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AIR BAGS - GENERAL INFORMATION & STATISTICS
Air bags are designed for frontal and near-frontal crashes, the kind of crashes which account for more than half of all passenger vehicle occupant deaths. The bags are designed to limit head and chest injuries and, therefore, inflate only when the impact of the crash is moderate to severe -- greater than approximately 12 miles per hour. In order for an air bag to do its job, it comes out of the dashboard as fast as 200 miles per hour - with a tremendous force that can hurt those who are sitting too close to it, especially children.
Air bags do save lives. A study of real-world crashes conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that the combination of safety belts and air bags is 75 percent effective in preventing serious head injuries and 66 percent effective in preventing serious chest injuries in head-on collisions.
But they pose a threat to young children riding in the front seat of a car. Studies have found that children are up to 29% safer in the back seat, regardless of whether the car has a passenger-side air bag. The following actions are recommended for maximum safety in a motor vehicle:
An occupant can be severely injured or killed in a crash if not wearing a safety belt -- even if the vehicle is equipped with an air bag. Wearing a safety belt during a crash helps reduce the occupant's chance of hitting things inside the vehicle or being ejected from it. The air bag is only a "supplemental restraint." That is, it crashes where the front of the vehicle hits something. They aren't designed to inflate at all in rollover, rear, side or low-speed frontal crashes.
AIR BAGS - SAFETY TIPS:
AIR BAGS - CUT OFF SWITCHES
Yet, for very few people, the potential risk air bags pose may outweigh the benefits.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that air bag cut-off switches will be available to consumers who fall within four specific categories of being "at-risk". Only people fitting into one of the four risk categories may obtain the switches. Automakers made these switches available beginning January 19, 1998.
To request an application for permission to have a cut-off switch installed in your vehicle(s), contact NHTSA at 800-424-9393, or click here to visit USDOT NHTSA's web site.
For more information on air bags, visit the following web sites:
Traffic Safety and Occupant Protection(from USDOT NHTSA's web site)
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