According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), frontal airbags have saved thousands of lives since they were first included in the 1998 model car year, but there are some airbag facts you should know that could save your life.

The airbag system in your car is intended to act as a secondary line of defense against injury in an auto accident. You should always were your seat belt – it’s your first line of defense in a crash and it’s the law. There are things you should know about your airbag system, also known as the supplementary restraint system (SRS), to maximize your safety.

Never allow small children to ride in the front seat:
Airbags are built for the average adult and the force of a deployed airbag is more than a child can safely withstand. Children under 12, and infants in car seats, should always ride in the back seat in a safety seat approved for their age and size. The safest place for a child safety seat is in the middle of the back seat.

Always wear your seat belt:
You should never operate a vehicle without wearing your seat belt. Your seat belt is your first line of defense against injury in a collision. When combined with seat belts, airbags can reduce fatality risk by 51%. Drivers should also keep at least 10 inches between the breastbone and the center of the steering wheel to maximize safety.

Don’t ignore warning lights:
When you turn on your vehicle the sensors that deploy your airbags in the event of an accident are checked. If the airbag warning light remains on you should not ignore it. Take your car into an authorized repair facility and have your sensors checked. Never drive without properly operating airbags.

Know where your airbags are located:
Newer cars can have up to 12 different airbags! Most cars now have side airbags that are intended to protect passengers in the event of a side impact. Airbag technology has also gotten smarter. The system can adjust deployment based on the severity of the impact, the size of the occupants and if the passenger is wearing a seat belt.

What to do if your airbags deploy in a collision:
Once an airbag is deployed it must be replaced. Your safety depends on proper replacement of your deployed airbags. Make sure your authorized repair shop inspects all sensors and replaces all deployed airbags following a collision. Even if you were in a crash that didn’t cause your airbags to deploy, you should have your system thoroughly inspected.

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