Air bags save thousands of lives each year, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In frontal crashes, air bags reduce deaths among drivers by about 30 percent and among passengers by 27 percent.
Air bags, however, can be dangerous. If small children sit unbelted in the front seat, they can be catapulted into the path of a deploying air bag, which inflates with great force. This risk also applies to small adults—who must sit close to the steering wheel in order to reach the pedals—pregnant women and the elderly. Infants in rear-facing safety seats on the passenger side can be severely injured because their heads are in the direct path of an inflating air bag. If your airbag is stolen or it deploys, you must get a new one, but you will be reimbursed under the comprehensive portion of your auto insurance policy.
Drivers should have all children sit in the backseat wearing a safety belt. Infants should be placed in rear-facing car seats and put in the backseat. Small adults should move the seat back so that their breastbone is at least 10 inches from the air bag cover. If this is not possible, air bag switches can be installed so that the vehicle owner has the option of turning the bag off or on, depending on the situation. In January 1998, NHTSA allowed auto dealers and repair shops to begin installing air bag cut-off switches. Before the switch can be installed, vehicle owners must complete a four-step process:
Source: Insurance Information Institute; http://www.iii.org/
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Insurance is underwritten by The Travelers Indemnity Company and its property casualty affiliates, One Tower Square, Hartford, CT. For a complete list of personal insurance underwriting companies, click here.
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