Passenger Safety: Is it Really a Good Idea to Disable the Airbag?

Car and passenger safety has progressed enormously on the part of manufacturers since most of us were children; in fact, you may be one of those who ‘survived’ riding in the back of the family station wagon, bouncing along and horsing around without a seatbelt while Mom and Dad cruised along without a worry. We may be looking toward a future of self-driving cars eventually, but for now, manufacturers continue to study and test safety for cars, making constant strides; in fact, you may find that your new car is equipped with more airbags than you can keep track of, along with safety features that cause the car to beep, ding, flash, and present warnings that have you scrambling for the owner’s manual.

Most of us are also familiar with the cautions printed on the front-seat visors, regarding airbags. These messages are undeniably attention-getting, usually warning in emboldened capitalization of the potential for death or serious injury if children 12 or under were to be riding in the front seat when the airbag deployed. After viewing this message repeatedly on the visors of your car, it may occur to you that perhaps disabling the airbag is a good idea. While your twelve-year-old may want to sit up front (finally), you may still be concerned about other adults riding in the car who despite their ages, may have small frames or statures. You may have heard horror stories about drivers and passengers being severely injured after being hit in the face or body with an airbag. These stories are frightening, but such instances are rare—and in most cases the airbag provides an excellent safety mechanism.

As the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration points out, tens of thousands of lives have been saved due to air bags since 1987. They are designed to work with seatbelts though, and can prevent massive injuries from occurring—especially to the head and chest area. Injuries can occur from the airbags themselves though if a passenger is sitting too close. This may be an issue for short or slight drivers, and for some of them, it may indeed be safer to turn the airbag off. The NHTSA only recommends turning off airbags in the following cases:

  • If it is decided that an adult riding in the passenger seat would be safer with the airbag deactivated—due to a health condition.
  • If a passenger under 13 absolutely must sit in the front seat—usually due to a health condition that must be monitored during the entire drive. In this case, the NHTSA points out that only the passenger airbag should be disabled.
  • A baby must be placed in the front seat in a rear-facing car seat due to lack of other seating.

For those cases, the NHTSA authorizes an on/off switch to be installed in the vehicle, or they may allow a dealer to deactivate the airbag. While some of the bad press and dire warnings in your car may cause you to consider having airbags deactivated, keep in mind that in most cases they are the primary sources of safety during an impact. Over a million people die in car crashes each year, with thousands injured daily. Make sure all your safety mechanisms are in place, and practice strong defensive driving to avoid being hit by a negligent driver. While this may often be out of our control, it is important to do everything possible to protect ourselves and our loved ones while we are on the road.

If you or a loved one have been injured in a car or motorcycle accident due to the negligence of others, please call Heintz & Becker for a free consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys. We handle all types of Florida personal injury cases, and our law firm has established an impressive record of verdicts and settlements. If you have been seriously injured, call us now at 941-748-2916 or contact us online. We are here to help!

All blogs are written on behalf of Heintz & Becker for informational purposes. These articles should not, however, be considered legal advice, or in any way responsible for creating an attorney/client relationship.