Airbags save lives by cushioning passengers during a crash. However, they can also cause injuries if deployed with too much force.
Airbags can be dangerous if deployed in lower-speed crashes or too close to passengers.
Facial and upper body injuries
Airbags deploy at a rapid pace, faster than you might think. This speed is necessary for airbags to work properly, but it can lead to injuries. Facial abrasions, bruises and broken bones are common when passengers are too close to airbags. Airbags can also cause hearing loss or even vision damage if they strike passengers in the head or ears.
Hand and arm injuries
Airbags deploying can cause injuries to hands and arms as well, especially if drivers do not have both hands on the wheel. Airbags are loud and hit with enough force to cause sprains, strains, fractures and dislocations to wrists, elbows and shoulders. If possible, drive with your hands at 9 and 3 or 8 and 4 positions on the steering wheel.
According to an NHTSA report in June 2020, airbags have saved more than 50,000 lives. While airbags prevent many fatalities, they can also cause injuries in some cases. Sit properly, with as much space as possible between yourself and the steering wheel, and drive with your hands on the wheel to stay safe. Airbags serve an important purpose, but understanding proper seating position helps avoid unnecessary harm. Always use seatbelts as well to prevent ejection or hitting the steering wheel in a crash and be mindful of the risk of airbag injuries.