The thought of my car’s airbag deploying in a crash makes me nervous. Is there a “right” way to maximize its safety features?

Airbags have made a huge difference in the survivability of head-on car collisions, offering both drivers and occupants important protection from large forces generated in a crash. New airbags even have sensors that determine if inflation is needed, and if so, to what degree.

Airbags do not always offer the best protection, however. On older models, even a slower crash could result in full deployment of the airbag, which could result in greater injury than had it not deployed at all. Many people suffer serious facial injuries from airbags. Luckily, these injuries can be prevented with a few simple safety measures.

The most important thing to remember about airbags is that they are not the first line of defense in a crash—that role belongs to your seatbelt. Airbags are designed to protect you based on the restraint that your seatbelt offers, so first and foremost, make sure that you and occupants are always safely buckled in.

When you are in the driver’s seat, you are at a very close proximity to your frontal airbag, which is generally found in the middle of your steering wheel. While every driver has a different preferred set-up, make sure that your chest is at least ten inches from the airbag housing. While this may take some adjustments to get used to, this is the minimum safe distance that still allows you to experience full protection without risking greater injury.

Finally, if you are a parent to any child under the age of 13, always ensure that your children are in the back seat. This is the safest place for them to be, as airbags can cause injury to smaller passengers.

Airbags can be lifesavers if you allow them to be. By following these simple rules, not only can you protect yourself from injuries, but you can also enjoy the maximum protection that your airbag offers. If you know someone else with similar misgivings about airbags, share this story with them on social media!

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