Airbags can kill

Use airbags correctly and they save lives, but use them incorrectly and they are extremely dangerous, and can even cause death.

Firstly, wear your seatbelt properly. A seatbelt should be close-fitting but not so tight it is uncomfortable. Make sure the belt is not twisted and is flat over the body. Moreover, unless you want a perfect impression of your cell phone, or house keys on your body, you may want to remove any hard objects from your pockets when the belt fits over them!

The headrest is part of the safety system; unlike some people’s belief that it is only there for convenience. They prevent whiplash when adjusted correctly. The headrest must support the back of the head, and not the neck.

During a crash, sensors trigger the airbags to deploy. It all happens very, very quickly; at about 0.05 seconds, the airbags will inflate at a speed of about 320km/h towards the occupant. Remember the seatbelt is there to stop you from moving forward. Once the airbag inflates, it will then start to deflate in about 0.03 seconds.

Here are a few very important things to remember:

·         Your body should be at least 25-30cm from the steering wheel or dashboard.

·         Children under 12 years should not sit in the front passenger seat. There are recorded cases overseas, where the force of the airbag, killed young children who were sitting close to the dashboard. The safest position for a young child is in the centre of the rear seat, wearing a three-point safety belt. Check the legal requirements here www.nzta.govt.nz/resources/factsheets/07/

·         Do not put your feet up on the dashboard – in a crash, your knees may cause severe facial injury.

·         Do not put any object on the dashboard and keep your hands and fingers away from the airbag area on the steering wheel.

·         Whenever you get a “bull bar” installed, check that it will not hinder the sensors that trigger the airbags.

·         When you fit seat covers, make sure they accommodate the operation of the airbags that are located in the side of the seat.

Over half of the people killed on NZ roads in the past year, did not wear seat belts.

Seat belts, head rests and airbags keep occupants safe!

 Safer Journeys!

Daniel Naudé

Road Safety Coordinator