Maximising airbag safety

Airbags are one of the most important components of modern vehicle safety, significantly reducing risk of injury or death in a collision. To ensure these crucial safety features work optimally, however, it is imperative to understand how our behaviour can influence its efficiency.

An airbag's primary objective is to prevent vehicle occupants from colliding with interior vehicle components during an accident. The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, explains further: “Modern vehicle safety systems have numerous airbags in conjunction with other restraints.

“Front airbags shield your head, neck, and chest from impact with the dashboard, steering wheel or windshield in a frontal collision. Side and curtain airbags safeguard occupants in side-impact collisions. Airbags can also minimise chance of ejection, prevent dangerous objects entering the vehicle and stop front passengers from colliding with one another.”

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), airbags save a significant number of lives daily. “In frontal crashes, front airbags can reduce fatalities by 29% for drivers and by 32% for passengers 13 and older. Side airbags in a broadside impact can reduce risk of death of drivers in light motor vehicles by 37% and by 52% in SUVs.”

To maximise airbag safety, drivers need to do their part too. “Sit in an upright position with your spine flat against the seat. Your chest should be approximately 25cm away from the steering wheel where airbags are situated. Place your hands in the nine and three o’ clock positions to prevent hitting your own face when an airbag deploys.

“Seatbelts work in conjunction with airbags. An airbag deploys at approximately 320km/h. A seatbelt reduces the force at which occupants hit the airbag whereas someone not restrained can be thrown into an airbag with enough force to kill them or cause serious injuries.”

It is the drivers responsibility to ensure passengers seating will allow the airbags to protect them rather than cause injury. “Drivers transporting children or infants must never place them in the front seat. Do not allow them to lean against side doors in the rear either. 

“Front passengers must not sit with their legs on the dashboard. If the airbag deploys rather than keeping your legs securely on the floor, they will be pushed upwards causing serious pelvis, leg and spinal injuries and even death.”

Airbags are a vital safety feature, but optimal effectiveness depends on responsible driving practices. “Understanding airbag mechanics and following recommended guidelines, can significantly enhance yours and your passengers’ safety,” says Herbert.