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Car Air Bag Injuries

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James E. Ballidis
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Are car aIr  bags actually unsafe in modern cars?  As a Orange County auto accident lawyer, many of our clients are injured by airbag deployment.  But now studies are showing that these injuries may not be necessary or worse, the airbags are causing  more injury to those that are seat belted.  Call 1 888 752-7474 if you have suffered an airbag injury, to learn what rights you have.  The call is free.  Let's look at the recent airbag testing develpoments.

According to preliminary data from the U.S. Department of Transportation , traffic deaths have reached their lowest levels since the mid-1950s. Motor vehicle fatalities were down in 2009 to fewer than 34,000. This is quite remarkable since the number of drivers on the road has more than doubled and commutes have more than quadrupled.

One of the primary factors that are saving lives is newer technologies that keep drivers and their passengers safe. The automobile industry and government regulators are working together to develop life-saving, effective policies.

Important technological advances with the manufacturing and design of automobiles, as well as improvements in road infrastructure and increased seat belt usage, are all key issues in vehicle safety.

In a recent survey conducted by Consumer Reports Brands Perception, the number one consumer consideration when purchasing a new vehicle is safety.  Safety even trumps durability and quality.

Over the past few decades, safety features such as anti-lock brakes, crash avoidance, electronic stability control, head protection, and of course side and front airbags have enabled automobile manufacturers to .develop safer cars.

However, in the latest study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), they concluded that the newer frontal air bag technology, which was specifically intended to protect belted drivers, actually reduces protection and may even be dangerous. In fact the belted drivers had a 21% increase in injuries and death.
Although airbag technology has been around since the mid 1970’s, frontal bags have only been standard in passenger vehicles since 1999. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, (NHTSA) estimates that seat belts have saved over 28,000 lives.

Some of the earlier airbag technology did in fact injure children and small-statured adults, but in 2003 the new airbag rules were modified to protect smaller occupants. Until now, there has never been a question about the safety of belted passengers.

In an ironic twist, the very requirements that regulate airbag deployment tests are actually based on unbelted drivers, not belted ones.  Currently in the U.S. more than 80% of the general driving population buckles up, as well as most children ride in the back seat restrained.

Should those of us that regularly use our seat belts be penalized for the few drivers who don’t? The question remains a valid one whether the manufacturers and government tests should accommodate the minority or majority.

Additionally, if there is better technology that can protect the belted drivers or maybe the test requirements should be revised?

Whichever side of the debate you on, safety belts do save lives and it is an important safety feature in any auto.
For further information on airbag technology and proper restraining of children in a vehicle, visit the Department of Transportation’s website for their brochure, “What you need to know about airbags.”

Category: Car Accidents

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