Study: Airbags Can Be Deadly to Smaller, Shorter Women

Consumer Affairs reports on a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) that found among 35 airbag-related deaths, 25 of the victims were women between 4-feet 7-inches and 5-feet 4.9-inches. Eleven of these women were sitting too close to the steering wheel and two were so close they made contact with the wheel even as the airbag deployed. While airbags have no doubt saved countless lives, about 5% of women sit closer to the steering wheel than 9.84 inches, putting them at risk for internal injuries from the air bag that inflates at about 200 miles per hour as well as coming in contact with the windshield and dashboard.

The IIHS advises shorter women to sit father than 10 inches away from the steering wheel as measured from the center of the steering wheel to their chest. And if that is impossible, the nonprofit group recommends pedal extenders be installed which are available at an auto parts store.

Since 1990, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recorded 175 fatalities due to the deployment of air bags with about 104 of the fatalities among children. At the same time, NHTSA reports thousands of lives have been saved due to airbags.

Airbags were never intended to be a replacement for seat belts but are a supplemental safety device to be used with a seat belt which holds a passenger in the proper position to be most protected by an air bag.

If you have had a problem with or been injured by an airbag, you would be well-advised to consult with a Florida defective airbag attorney to help determine to what extent the airbag may have contributed to your injuries.