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air bag safety tips

Today's air bags are safer than ever before. Here we'll break down the numbers and give you a little background on the lifesaving capabilities of new air bags. And predictably, we'll also explain how air bags can help you save a few bucks on car insurance.

The modern air bag

You may have heard this myth before: "Air bags end more lives than they save." While this opinion has long been baseless, it's a myth that's even more busted by the latest and greatest air bags.

So what makes the modern air bag so … modern?

  • Sheer numbers. Newer cars generally have not one or 2 but up to 12 air bags (take that, cup holders!). Instead of just residing in the steering wheel or dashboard, they can also be found in front of the knees, in rear doors, and even in the roof.

    Plus, side air bags have become standard, with flexible designs that protect out-of-position motorists — particularly children and small adults. There's even an inflatable curtain designed to stabilize your body during a rollover.

  • Innovation in design. The new generation of air bags features stunning technology. For instance, driver air bags often come with an internal strap that deflects impact from the inner organs toward more rugged areas like the shoulders; side air bags can now vary air pressure based on the shoulder position of the passenger; and front passenger air bags can vary pressure based on seating position.

    In other words, air bags are getting smarter. They can now determine the severity of the crash, the size and posture of occupants, and whether you're wearing a seat belt. They can also adjust their deployment based on these factors.

Air bag safety statistics

Air bags have saved lives since the Oldsmobile Tornado became the first car to have them in 1973. Thanks to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, we have the stats to prove it:

  • As of 2009, frontal air bags alone saved more than 28,000 lives
  • Air bags, when combined with seat belts, reduce fatality risk by 61 percent
  • Well-tested side air bags can reduce fatality rates by 37 percent in cars and 52 percent in SUVs

Air bag safety tips

Despite improved air bag design, deployment force, and the stats listed above, injury risk has only been minimized, not erased. To help you make this essential safety feature even safer, here are a few air bag safety tips.

tip
  • Buckle up. Air bags are meant to be used in conjunction with seat belts. In a crash, not only will your seat belt help keep you secure, it'll also keep you from potentially hitting a rapidly inflating air bag.
  • Keep your distance. Drivers should sit at least 10 inches away from the steering wheel. If you're diminutive and can't sit more than 10 inches away, try tilting the steering wheel down.
  • Put your kids in the back. No matter how much your child wants to ride shotgun, the safest place for children is the backseat.

Spotting a faulty air bag

If your air bag indicator light alerts you that something is wrong, check your car's manual. It may be a sign that your air bag needs professional service to make sure it's ready to work properly.

Similarly, if your air bag does deploy, it's a good idea to get it replaced as soon as you can. (Some car engines won't run after deployment, making a swift trip to the mechanic a must.)

Air bags and your car insurance

It's never been easier to take advantage of air-bag-safety advances. And since air bags are proven lifesavers, insurers love them. Many insurance companies offer a safety device discount for air bags, and Esurance is no exception. If your car comes factory-equipped with air bags (any car, light truck, or van manufactured in 1999 or later is legally required to have air bags), you may be able to nab the Safety Device discount. (Discount availability varies by state.)

For more expert guidance or to find out more about our safety discounts, give us a call anytime at 1-800-ESURANCE (1-800-378-7262).

Related links

Coverage outside the box (or bag)
In a collision, your air bag protects you while your insurance protects your wallet. Tailor your policy to meet your unique needs with Esurance's Coverage Counselor®.

Defects and recalls
We'll help you find out how to track down any possible recalls, air bag or otherwise, on your car.